Queer Liberation March clashes with New York police on 51st anniversary of Stonewall riots

Organisers estimated over 50,000 people took part in the march, where it was reported that police used pepper spray and assaulted some of the attendees during clashes.

A Queer Liberation March with brightly dressed attendees meet with a line of police officers, clashing on the street

As an estimated 50,000 attendees took part in the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality over Pride weekend, some were met with pepper spray and assaulted by the New York Police. It was noted by many that this was taking place on the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The event, organised by the Reclaim Pride Coalition, was held in the place of Pride celebrations cancelled due to the pandemic. Marchers gathered in Manhattan, their route taking them past the historic Stonewall Inn, and on to a park in Greenwich Village. 

It was here that attendees clashed with the police, with social media videos and television news reports depicting officers using pepper spray and batons. The police allege that demonstrators got into shoving matches with them, while attendees put the blame on the side of the officers present.

The Reclaim Pride Coalition released the following statement in the wake of events:

“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.”

Jake Tolan, one of the organisers of the Queer Liberation March, added to the statement; “I wish that I could say what I saw today was shocking, but how could I reasonably expect anything else from the NYPD? 51 years after the Stonewall Rebellion, the NYPD is still responding to peaceful, powerful, righteous queer joy with pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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