51 Years After Stonewall
On June 28th, 1969, the Stonewall Inn riots began after police raided the Stonewall Inn near Washington Square Park; they continued on for six days. Fifty one years later, yesterday, as protesters with the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and against police brutality congregated along Washington Square North, the New York City Police Department attacked with pepper spray and batons.
In the aftermath, early this morning, the Washington Square Arch was doused with red paint on both sides, north and south. Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York reported that the front and back of the Arch were splashed with red paint and “crime scene body outlines” were drawn rimming the fountain plaza also in red paint.
Of course, we don’t want to see the Arch ‘defaced’ in any way but something is going on here that is bigger than that. A few hours later, the paint was removed.
As JVNY wrote:
“This will be temporary, paint washes off, but the lives lost to police brutality will never be made whole. This statement is a reminder that the city has blood on its hands. Yesterday’s violence erupted when police arrested people for graffiti–and the crowd of queers resisted. We might remember Michael Stewart, a graffiti artist killed by the NYPD in 1983. And Stonewall, as we all know, was a riot.”
Reclaim Pride Coalition: “NYPD Brutally Attacks Peaceful Queer Liberation March”
The Reclaim Pride Coalition issued a statement last night:
New York City, June 28, 2020 — As peaceful marchers with the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality entered Washington Square Park this afternoon at the end of their March, the NYPD, in a vast and brutal overreaction, attacked with pepper spray, batons, violent shoving and arrests.
Marchers had conducted a huge and universally acclaimed event, marching from Foley Square north on Sixth Avenue, around the Stonewall Inn and back east to Washington Square park. But as they were entering the Park, an NYPD officer stepped forward to arrest a marcher (reason unknown and the NYPD won’t say), and a crowd gathered to object, chanting “Let him go.” Suddenly, a large crowd of NYPD officers rushed in and attacked with pepper spray. All that did was increase the crowd yelling at them to “go home,” while marchers nursed their pepper spray wounds. One NYPD member reached out to slam a woman on a bicycle to the ground. Other marchers were punched and violently shoved.
“I wish that I could say what I saw today was shocking, but how could I reasonably expect anything else from the NYPD?” said Jake Tolan, one of the March organizers. “51 years after the Stonewall Rebellion, the NYPD is still responding to peaceful, powerful, righteous queer joy with pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs. Thank you, Commissioner Shea and the entire NYPD, for continuing to show us why you should be abolished.”
There is a march today at 5 p.m. at Washington Square Park and a March against Police Brutality at Union Square Park also at 5 p.m.