SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A self-defense demonstration at Santa Barbara's Pacific Pride Festival was overshadowed by pro-Palestine protesters Saturday afternoon.
The protest was organized by a group called the South West Asian and North Africa Alliance (or SWANA Alliance).
Protesters chanted and displayed anti-Zionism signs during a planned Krav Maga demonstration. Krav Maga is the military self-defense system developed for the Israeli military.
In the past, anti-Zionist organizations have alleged that Krav Maga demonstrations encourage violence against Palestinians.
SWANA documented the protest on their various social media accounts along with the hashtags, #NOPRIDEINAPARTHEID and #FREEPALESTINE.
The organization also accused the festival and the Israeli state of "pinkwashing" -- the practice of disingenuously endorsing pro-LGBT ideals in the name of profit.
We SWANA Alliance just shut down Santa Barbara Pride festival for their Israeli pink washing. SHAME! pic.twitter.com/xKvDxJux6O— SWANA Alliance (@swanaalliance) August 26, 2017
Executive Director of the Pacific Pride Foundation Colette Schabram said -- in the spirit of free speech -- one of the apparent organizers of the protest was given a chance to speak on microphone.
Schabram said the protestors left the festival without incident after the demonstration and the festival continued as planned.
Santa Barbara Krav Maga Family Self Defense Center director Pedro Sanchez -- who organized the demonstration -- said the self-defense demonstrators were not taking a political stand.
"Fighting for survival has nothing to do with politics," Sanchez said. "Nobody has the right to put their hands on you. It's about fighting for yourself and loved ones."
Sanchez said the demonstration was meant to empower members of the LGBTQ community to defend themselves.
One of the Krav Maga demonstrators said the protest misrepresented the intentions and ideals the performers.
"We're all about empowerment and standing up to your bullies and finding your confidence," she said.
KEYT reached out to the organizers of the protest for their take on the event and we received the following statement:
Today we were made aware of a scheduled main event at Santa Barbara Pride which featured a Krav Maga performance led and justified by outwardly racist individuals. Krav Maga as a martial arts form is entrenched in IDF violence. It originated for and has been historically dedicated to brutalizing Palestinians by the Israeli Defense Forces. We shut it down, took over the mic, and made it clear that Zionism has no place for in our communities but especially in Pride. SWANA Alliance stands with our Palestinian communities against white supremacy. Pride cannot stand for queer liberation without the liberation of queer brown and black peoples. Pride cannot stand for queer liberation without the liberation of queer Palestinians.
Aside from the protest, we were told the Pacific Pride Festival went off without any major disruptions and the organizers were happy with the turn out.