Queer groups are objecting to the arrests of two marchers in the people of color contingent at Sunday’s LGBT Pride Parade, saying the two were arrested after they briefly exited the march and then tried to rejoin the group.
“Two members of the people of color contingent… were unjustly arrested,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Audre Lorde Project, the Brooklyn-based community center for queers of color, at a June 26 press conference outside Manhattan’s criminal court building.
Jade Whitehead, a section marshal in the contingent, said she saw a young person arrested as he was trying to rejoin the group. A second young man tried to intervene and was also arrested.
The police department press office confirmed that a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old were arrested during the march near 12th Street and Fifth Avenue. Both were charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
No information was available on the 14-year-old though, apparently, that arrest was voided and the youth was released from the Sixth Precinct on the same day.
Police said the 19-year-old was arrested after officers saw him walking north, against the march direction, and using obscenities to describe police officers. He was held overnight.
The 19-year-old was arrested for subway fare-beating on April 18 and he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct on April 19, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said. His sentence was five days of community service, which he did not complete. At his June 26 arraignment, a judge sentenced him to time served on the June 25 charge, but gave him ten days in jail on the April 18 charge.
“It’s a sad day in New York City when on Gay Pride one member of our community is arrested for peacefully trying to participate in one day of celebration of being who we are,” said Rickke Mananzala, campaign coordinator at Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment (FIERCE!). “It’s a sad day in New York City when somebody is trying to exit a march peacefully and re-enter the march peacefully and that person is now in jail.”
The police department press office did not respond to a request for a reaction to the activists’ comments, but the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) issued a statement defending the department.
“The vast majority of NYPD officers acted in a professional, courteous and even friendly manner towards marchers and participants in the city’s annual… Pride celebrations,” the statement read. “It is unfortunate that two young people were arrested during the march on Fifth Avenue and that one of them was charged with disorderly conduct. But GOAL is confident that the arresting officers treated those taken into custody fairly and respectfully as mandated by departmental procedures.”