Nonprofit uses rainbow umbrellas to shield people from hateful protesters


On September 21, when dozens of people gathered in front of the the Byron Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Denver to rally against filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before the November election, a group of people armed with rainbow umbrellas were in attendance. Pasha Eve was part of that group.

Eve, along with Eli Bazan, is the co-founder of a nonprofit called Parasol Patrol.

When it first started, Parasol Patrol worked to shield young people from hateful protesters. “We started originally at LGBTQIA+ events for youth, for kids. Like drag queen story time, all-ages drag shows...and we had protesters coming out that were pretty bad guys,” Eve explained.

Earlier this year, for example, Mile High Comics in Denver held its monthly talent show, which is hosted by drag queens. Several protesters across the street from the comic book shop shouted offensive, disapproving messages toward the families and children heading into the show. Thanks to the Parasol Patrol, which used the umbrellas to block the view of the protesters and gave the children earmuffs, the messages weren’t received.

Parasol Patrol’s mission is simple: reduce chaos; reduce confrontation; make everything as safe as possible. The group manages this by putting themselves between protestors and the group they’re trying to protect, which is often young people.

And why the rainbow umbrellas?

“We’re queer. We’re people of color,” Eve said of her and Eli, who is a Marine Corps veteran. “And we wanted to be able to show that through the rainbows, but also our point is reduce the chaos and help insulate these kids. And if we’re able to distract them somewhat with the colorful umbrellas so they won’t be looking at the protestors and their really vulgar signs and give them a diversion, that’s a plus.”

Eli Bazan, a Marine Corps veteran, is one of Parasol Patrol's co-founders

Eve says the protestors often lob hateful, personal comments at members of the Parasol Patrol. But it’s the group's policy not to engage.

“Turn your back on them, twirl your umbrella, and that allows you to catch your breath as well. So the umbrella twirling is actually a wonderful, multi-faceted tool,” Eve said. “We are here because of protestors, but not for the protestors.”

In a year of activism and unrest, the Parasol Patrol has stayed busy. On September 25, they will be at the University of Denver supporting students who are rallying against a “toxic campus racial climate” at the university. “Tighten your laces and hoist your umbrellas!” the event page reads. The next day, the Parasol Patrol will be at the March 4 Black Women in Denver, which was organized after the Kentucky Attorney General announced no officers would be charged in the killing of Breonna Taylor.

“Everyone in their life has had ups and downs and their own tough times. And I’ve been through some tough times,” Eve said. “We meet people where they are in their life’s journey without any judgement, without any condemnation, and we walk together in this path to shield those who need it.”