Reclaim Pride Coalition Blasts NYPD for Arrests at Washington Square

Jay W. Walker, an organizer from the Reclaim Pride Coalition, condemned the police for their actions at Washington Square Park after the Queer Liberation March on June 27.
Donna Aceto

The Reclaim Pride Coalition blasted the NYPD on June 29 for arresting demonstrators after the Queer Liberation March.

In a press conference at Washington Square Park, Jay W. Walker, an organizer for the Reclaim Pride Coalition, condemned the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group (SRG) for allegedly pepper-spraying and roughing up protesters after the Queer Liberation March, which concluded in the same area on June 27. Following years of violent police interactions, the Reclaim Pride Coalition is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to shut down the SRG and direct them back to working on terrorism.

“A group of NYPD officers attacked, grabbed, and arrested people who were simply standing on the sidewalk,” Walker said. “I saw up close and personal officers throw a young woman down onto the hot pavement.”

When the organizer confronted officers about their handling of protesters, authorities allegedly refused to discuss de-escalation tactics. Earlier this month, the Reclaim Pride Coalition warned the NYPD to avoid the Queer Liberation March after folks were pepper-sprayed at last year’s demonstration. Walker believes members of the SRG intended to provoke demonstrators.

“They do not keep anyone safe,” Walker said. “They do not protect our communities…they only serve to antagonize and commit violence against peaceful and non-violent protesters.”

Organizers are calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to shutter the Strategic Response Group. Donna Aceto

Reclaim Pride Coalition organizer Carli Rhoades also ripped the NYPD, saying they were escalating incidents after the march.

‘The police presence was completely unnecessary and entirely over the top,” Rhoades said. “After a community member fainted, cops violently swarmed the rest of the community as medics tended to them in the middle of the intersection.”

Ann Northrop, a journalist, longtime activist, and Reclaim Pride Coalition organizer, slammed the city for dragging its feet on police violence against protesters.

“The mayor does nothing; he increases their budget,” Northrop said regarding the NYPD. “He should be standing up and saying these tactics have to stop. These tactics are costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits and ruining the city’s relationship with its citizens.”

At the end of the press conference, a heckler appeared to be criticizing the Reclaim Pride Coalition.

Just days before the presser, authorities said they arrested a mix of marchers and non-marchers in Washington Square Park. According to the NYPD, three men and one woman who shouted anti-gay messages at Washington Square South were issued C-summonses for disorderly conduct. NYPD said they identified a “large group of Pride parade demonstrators” challenging the anti-LGBTQ folks, though police said those from the Pride march then dispersed. The police did not respond to Gay City News’ questions about how they determined the group was comprised of Pride demonstrators.

At East 8th Street and Fifth Avenue, which is near Washington Square Park, authorities arrested four individuals for multiple charges, including resisting arrest, criminal possession of a weapon, and obstructing governmental administration. The wave of arrests began after an NYPD lieutenant was allegedly bitten and slapped by an individual, though there does not appear to be video evidence of that. Authorities also said the individuals threw water bottles.

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Reclaim Pride Coalition organizer Carli Rhoades denounces police violence days after the NYPD arrested protesters at the Queer Liberation March. Donna Aceto

 

Ann Northrop, a journalist, and organizer with the Reclaim Pride Coalition, speaks out about the police attacks. Donna Aceto

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