One year after folks were pepper-sprayed at the Queer Liberation March, the Reclaim Pride Coalition took to Christopher Park on June 3 to encourage police to lay off marchers at the group’s third annual march on June 27.
“Do not come near the Queer Liberation March this year,” said Jay W. Walker, an organizer from the Reclaim Pride Coalition. “You do not keep us safe. You cause violence every time you show up.”
Warriors in the Garden, the organizers of the weekly Stonewall Protests, and others joined the Reclaim Pride Coalition as activists recounted instances of police abuse against queer protesters. Early last June, Jason Rosenberg, a member of ACT UP, was among several demonstrators left with injuries after they said officers aggressively arrested them during a protest for violating the city’s 8 p.m. curfew, which was imposed in the midst of protests responding to the murder of George Floyd.
Rosenberg recalled waking up from a concussion in a pool of blood. Shortly after, Rosenberg said he confronted an officer about the incident.
“I asked why this happened to me, and the officer cited Mayor de Blasio’s curfew, ” Rosenberg said at the press conference. “Sometimes I’m asked what justice would like for me, and it would be justice for Tony McDade, justice for Kawaski Trawick… justice for me is seeing a world without the police.”
Ann Northrop, a longtime LGBTQ activist and organizer of the Queer Liberation March, recollected the scene at last year’s Queer Liberation March.
“I saw the NYPD beating members from our march — peaceful marchers — with batons, spraying them with pepper spray, and of course the classic image of a cop pushing someone off a bicycle over into the street,” Northrop said. “We want the NYPD to be held accountable.”
The same kinds of problems have continued into this year. Less than two months ago, video footage from one of the weekly Stonewall Protests showed NYPD officers shoving demonstrators with batons and throwing them to the ground. According to Walker, NYPD officers continue to drive violence at demonstrations that center LGBTQ people of color.
“Since last June, the NYPD has continually attacked queer and trans-led protests in this city, injuring protesters for no reason other than the ridiculousness of breaking curfew… for being Black and Brown, and trans marching for Black lives,” Walker said.
During the press conference, organizers said they are increasing their use of legal advocates, marshals, and other alternatives to policing to help keep protesters safe at the upcoming march.
The Queer Liberation March, which first started in 2019, bars police, politicians, and corporate floats. The 2021 march will kick off on June 27 at Bryant Park and conclude with a rally at Washington Square Park.
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