The following letter was drafted by a member Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, himself part of the LGBTQ community, then edited and endorsed by the rest of the group. It calls for the group that manages the Heritage of Pride Parade to disallow NYPD from participating in the parade, specifically their gay contingent, Gay Officers Action League New York or GOAL. This parade was formed to celebrate a rebellion against NYPD harassment, discrimination, and profiling and it should not be used to celebrate the police force, which to this day remains unapologetic for its history of abuse directed at the LGBTQ community. Moreover, our experiences with the NYPD and other first responders — with Broken Windows policing, to the systemic harassment of the trans community who are profiled as sex workers and arrested, to the eviction of the 85 Bowery residents, and to cooperation with ICE — shows us that if the NYPD is allowed to march in the Pride Parade, then these injustices will be pink-washed and the survivors of police violence dishonored.
The celebration of NYPD and corporatization of the parade, in general, has become too much: we call on groups and individuals to join us in making this demand, which you can do by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
21 April 2018
Julian Sanjivan, March Director
Heritage Of Pride, Inc.
154 Christopher St., Suite 1D
New York, New York 10014
The Hon. Corey Johnson, Speaker
The Hon. Daniel Dromm, Councilmember
The Hon. Carlos Menchaca, Councilmember
The Hon. Ritchie Torres, Councilmember
The Hon. Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilmember
New York City Council
City Hall Park
New York, New York 10007
Re : Getting NYPD out of the Heritage of Pride Parade
The undersigned groups, listed in order of formation, demand that the Heritage of Pride organisers and prominent LGBTQ elected officials, chiefly New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea) and the members of the LGBTQ Caucus, disallow NYPD officers from participating in the 2018 Heritage of Pride Parade.
The LGBTQ community, and specifically trans people of color, have historically experienced violence at the hands of the police. There are countless examples of police attacking members of the LGBTQ community. Stonewall, itself, was a response to police harassment. Over the years, countless members of our community have been killed and harassed by the police. To this day, police target poor and working class sex workers in NYC, often members of the LGBTQ community, and prevent them from making a living. For trans people, even carrying a condom can get them arrested. Members of the LGBTQ community, however, are not just victims. They have a long history of fighting back against police harassment in the struggle for liberation. We must look to Sylvia Rivera, who famously urged the community to fight against police oppression. “I believe in us getting our rights, or else I would not be out there fighting for our rights.”
The LGBTQ community is not alone in this fight. Currently, there is a nationwide movement against police brutality — from the protest movement sparked by Colin Kaepernick to Black Lives Matter — people are demanding an end to police violence. Just two weeks ago, a man with mental health issues was gunned down in Crown Heights. Despite the endless procession of police murders, there has been no substantial police reform enacted.
The LGBTQ community contains within itself many other diverse communities. If our demands are to be taken seriously, they must respect those in our community who are the most oppressed. Therefore, the LGBTQ community must stand in solidarity with the nation-wide movement against police brutality taking place.
Two years ago, Black Lives Matter activists largely won reforms in the Pride Parade in Toronto, Canada, where police were not allowed to march in their uniforms or in their patrol cars. This was two years ago, and New York City, which used to be on the vanguard of activism, has been unable to produce any reform in its Pride Parade. It’s time for us to get the NYPD out of participating in the Heritage of Pride Parade. We cannot allow their violent history to be pink-washed by letting them participate in this parade.
These are some of the reasons we demand that the NYPD not be allowed to participate in the Heritage of Pride Parade :
- NYPD were profiling and falsely arresting and harassing the LGBTQ community for years, sparking the Stonewall riots ;
- NYPD profiled gay men for arrest at gay bookstores on false charges of prostitution as a pretext to close gay bookstores (http://thevillager.com/villager_305/arrestatporn.html) ;
- NYPD have a history of using condoms as criminal evidence against LGBTQ sex workers, particularly trans women of color, in violation of Griswold v. Connecticut (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-butler-fosta-sex-work_us_5ad75366e4b0e4d0715c4bf8) ;
- NYPD are not in compliance with their own guidelines in the Patrol Guide about how they arrest, process, and detain the LGBTQ community, particularly trans New Yorkers (https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doi/press-releases/2017/nov/31_LGBTQ_ReportRelease_112117.pdf) ;
- On the night when marriage equality passed in New York State, the NYPD raided the Eagle bar in what appeared to many as a deliberate act of profiling, harassment, and retaliation (https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/25/sudden-inspection-at-gay-bar-mars-victory-celebration-for-some/) ;
- On Oct. 2, 2011, NYPD shot and killed Yvonne McNeil, 57, a homeless LGBTQ activist, and there was never any accountability (https://mic.com/articles/133517/four-years-ago-the-nypd-killed-a-homeless-lgbt-activist-new-yorkers-want-answers ; http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/woman-shot-death-lunging-nypd-officers-knife-article-1.961138) ;
- On Feb. 4, 2016, Kayden Clarke, 24, a trans man with Asperger’s syndrome, was shot by Mesa, Arizona, police entering his home (https://www.cnn.com/2016/02/06/us/transgender-man-with-aspergers-killed/index.html) ;
- On Jan. 6, 2017, Sean Hake, 23, a trans man, was shot by police inside his mother’s home in Sharon, Pennsylvania (http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/01/domestic_disturbance_call_ends.html) ;
- On Aug. 21, 2017, Kiwi Herring, 30, was murdered by the police in St. Louis, Missouri (https://mic.com/articles/184058/trans-woman-kiwi-herring-killed-by-police-after-allegedly-stabbing-neighbor-officer#.HZfTtVMp1) ; and
- On Sept. 16, 2017, Scout Schultz, 21 and the president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech, was murdered by campus police near a school parking garage (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/scout-schultz-family-georgia-tech-police-overreacted/).
Furthermore, many in the LGBTQ community have reason to fear the police.
Half of transgender people report feeling uncomfortable seeking police assistance. More than 1/5th (22%) who have interacted with police reported police violence, and 6% of transgender individuals reported they have experience bias-motivated by police officers. Black transgender people reported must higher rates of biased harassment and assault (38% and 15%)…
Transgender people who have done sex work or participated in underground economies often report elevated levels of police violence—this includes 16% of all trans people, 34% of Latino/a trans people, and 53% of Black trans people.
Source : Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
For the foregoing reasons, we demand that the Heritage of Pride organisers and prominent LGBTQ elected officials, chiefly City Council Speaker Johnson, disallow NYPD officers from participating in the 2018 Heritage of Pride Parade.
Queens Anti-Gentrification Project
Brooke Cerda Guzman
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Black and Pink NYC
Queer Palestinian Empowerment Network