Stonewall Protest Erupts Into Chaos at Columbus Circle

Protesters rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York City
Police made several arrests at the weekly stonewall protest on April 22.
Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

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.”

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.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also criticized protesters and blasted them for defacing state property — but did not appear to say anything about the police’s treatment of protesters.
“It’s not legal, and there will be consequences,” he said, according to ABC News. “You want to make change, go out and protest peacefully. You want to make change, work with other leaders and organizations to achieve it.”
He added, “But it’s just wrong. It’s just wrong, and we are going to keep trying to make clear to people, if you are a peaceful protester and you see folks planning violence or planning to destroy property, separate from them. Don’t let them undermine the meaning of what good peaceful protest is trying to achieve.”

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??”

The protests at Stonewall first started last year after a Black trans woman in Missouri and a Black trans man in Florida were killed just weeks apart in 2020.
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