By Richard Hack
A peaceful protest labeled the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality assembled over 5,000 mostly masked people to Manhattan’s Foley Square for a march past The Stonewall Inn toward Washington Square Park. Up until that point, the only controversy centered on the wisdom of assembling enmasse during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Once in Washington Square, however, the event took a dramatic turn as the New York City Police Department turned the peaceful protest into a violent standoff last Sunday.
Widely circulated video footage appears to show law enforcement officers aggressively shoving many of the demonstrators and at least one officer using pepper spray.
At 11pm on @NBCNewYork, a #Pride weekend demonstration ends with police confrontations and pepper spray. We ask #NYPD what prompted this officer to push a bike-riding protester? pic.twitter.com/8XRRNHnrpK
— chris glorioso (@glorioso4ny) June 29, 2020
A GLAAD spokesman is quoted as saying: “That this happened at all, let alone on the anniversary of Stonewall, an uprising against police brutality, defies common sense and basic humanity.”
“In 1969, LGBTQ people rose up and resisted police brutality at Stonewall. In 2020, we saw this anniversary met with more violence and oppression,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David tweeted. “We need a radical transformation of policing NOW.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson condemned the police violence in the clips as “incredibly disturbing,” adding, “We need a full investigation into what happened today.”
A spokesperson for the NYPD said that four people were arrested for vandalism to a police vehicle, but has no comment on the deliberate unprovoked attacks.