Letter to Heritage of Pride Parade Demanding NYPD Not Participate

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 queensantigentrification@gmail.com.


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 :

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.

Signed,

Queens Anti-Gentrification Project
Brooke Cerda Guzman
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Alan Bounville
Michael Petrelis
Black and Pink NYC
Code Pink
Queer Palestinian Empowerment Network

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PRESS RELEASE (4-10-18): GROUPS FILED OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT BQX TWO WEEKS BEFORE  LATEST CONTROVERSY: REQUEST FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY DENIED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Forest, 
queensantigentrification@gmail.com

GROUPS FILED OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT BQX TWO WEEKS BEFORE  LATEST CONTROVERSY: REQUEST FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY DENIED

New York, NY (Apr. 10, 2018) – On March 28, 2018, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, in collaboration with the news Web site Progress New York, filed a series of open records requests as part of an investigative effort to examine the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or BQX. A total of nine (9) open records requests have been filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

Highlights include:

  1. FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Buildings construction records submitted by developers along the route of the BQX. The purpose of this FOIL request is to ascertain whether developers positioned to profit from this public works project have been properly reporting rent-regulated apartments.
  2. FOIA request seeking U.S. Department of Justice records from the ‘pay to play’ Federal corruption probe against the de Blasio administration specifically related to the BQX.
  3. FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Environmental Protection records, demonstrating the extent to which the City is aware of the relationship between large construction projects and increased lead levels in tap water.
  4. Financial feasibility studies related to the BQX used as the basis of controversial memo in which the City admitted the BQX was not financially feasible, submitted to the Office of the Mayor.

A full list of the FOIA/FOIL requests filed can be found here: https://progressnewyork.news/research-data/

The open records requests were filed two weeks before Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) was put on the defensive about media reports that again questioned the financial feasibility of the BQX project.

FOIL Request Constructively Denied

After filing one of the FOIL Requests, the one requesting BQX feasibility studies from the Office of the Mayor, we were informed that the Office of the Mayor would require one (1) year before a determination would be made about the release of records. Progress New York obtained guidance from the Committee on Open Government based in Albany, and the guidance provided indicates that if an Agency subject to FOIL refuses to grant access to records beyond 20 business days, that refusal can be treated or interpreted as a denial of records that can be appealed. Progress New York will be appealing this constructive denial.

The deliberate withholding of records by the Office of the Mayor comes as Mayor de Blasio has admitted that the City of New York will be unable to pay for the BQX project using a controversial value capture tax system that will benefit some participants in the real estate industry, who own or plan to develop real property along the proposed route of the BQX project.

Appeal for Legal Assistance

Progress New York seeks pro bono legal assistance in preparation, if necessary, to litigate the denial of records. If any lawyer or legal group can provide pro bono legal support, please contact: contact@progressnewyork.new
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