The weekly Stonewall protest condemning police brutality and deadly violence against transgender individuals erupted into chaos on April 22 as the NYPD violently roughed up protesters and made arrests.
The “Black Power for Black Justice: Guilty Is Not Enough” protest started at the Stonewall Inn before protesters made their way to Columbus Circle, where six individuals were arrested between Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street after the USS Maine National Monument was allegedly covered in graffiti and red paint.
Video footage of the incident posted by Twitter users, including Leeroy Johnson (@LeeroyPress) and Ash J (@AshAgony), showed NYPD officers shoving protesters with batons and throwing them to the ground. In a text message to Gay City News, Qween Jean, one of the co-founders of the protest, confirmed the series of events and described the scene as a “nightmare.”
— Leeroy Johnson (@LeeroyPress) April 23, 2021
Individuals allegedly spray-painted the monument with the phrase “Stonewall was a Riot” as well as the anti-police slogan, “A.C.A.B.” The protesters were arrested on multiple charges, including assault, making graffiti, disorderly conduct, and obstructing governmental administration, police said.
The NYPD condemned the incidents and claimed to be “working to de-escalate the situation,” despite the video evidence showing them aggressively going after protesters.
Bree Newsome, an activist who made headlines when she removed the Confederate flag at the South Carolina statehouse in 2015, reacted to the Twitter videos showing the police treatment of protesters. She asked, “Again, where are the public statements from the Biden [White House] and the elected officials pushing reform regarding police rioting against protesters in the streets right now??”