Stonewall Inn police brutality apologised for by New York police

Stonewall raid in 1969 called “discriminatory and oppressive” by commissioner in historic apology.

Front of Stonewall Inn in New York with Pride Flags

In a long-awaited and long-called-for statement, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill has officially apologised for actions taken by police at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

“I think it would be irresponsible to go through World Pride month, not to speak of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969,” Mr. O’Neill said. “I do know what happened should not have happened.” 

He continues, “I vow to the LGBTQ community that this would never happen in the NYPD in 2019.”

Those present reacted to the sentiments with enthusiastic cheers.

The statement comes after years without an acknowledgment of the historic event, which has left rift between LGBT+ people and NYPD that had bred mistrust. 

2019 marks 50 years since the Stonewall riots, regarded as the turning point of the modern LGBT+ rights movement, where a police raid sparked outrage and a violent confrontation between bar-goers and police, which was followed by days of protest at the famed gay bar in Greenwich Village in Manhattan.

The statement also occurred just before New York is set to host World Pride, which will commemorate the anniversary of Stonewall. It is the inaugural World Pride. The event is expected to be attended by 3 million+ people and will include 50+ events spanning the entire month of June. The opening ceremony on June 26 is set to include performances from Billy Porter and Cyndi Lauper.

The statement ironically comes after the commissioner refused to issue a public apology for Stonewall as recently as 2017, saying “ I think that’s been addressed already.”

While the reaction seems to be overwhelmingly positive, some question whether the apology will actually translate in better practices by police moving forward. 

It is possible that the statement will begin the healing of the relationship between LGBT+ people and police in New York. The apology, 50 years overdue, is significant in its direct acknowledgment of wrongdoing, not something the public often gets from NYPD.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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