Instead, virtual celebrations and a unity march were held, but it wasn’t all peaceful.
The Reclaim Pride Coalition, an advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, held the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality. The group marched in solidarity with supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement from Foley Square to Washington Square Park and called for police reform and to defund and disarm police, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“There’s also a very important intersection between the Black community and the gay community because there are black, gay, queer, and trans people out there in the world that need to hear their voice, and so we just parlayed the two movements together,” Harlem resident Christopher Maxwell said.
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“I had to come by and see this. This is like a really beautiful thing to see. People know what’s at risk and they still come out anyway. It’s just very beautiful and I had to be a part of it,” added Kunle Martins of Lower Manhattan.
There was a brief altercation between police and some people who were gathering in Washington Square Park. Witnesses said police sprayed some people with pepper spray, after three individuals were allegedly caught spraying graffiti on squad cars.
Witness Marti Cummings walked into the chaos and posted video of the aftermath.
“It was so beautiful seeing queer people come together to uplift the Black Lives Matter movement and black trans voices, and to come together in solidarity. And for the police to come in and be aggressive on what is a day of peace … it’s so maddening,” Cummings said.
“I wish that I could say what I saw today was shocking, but how could I reasonably expect anything else from the NYPD?” Jake Tolan, one of the March organizers, said in a statement. “51 years after the Stonewall Rebellion, the NYPD is still responding to peaceful, powerful, righteous queer joy with pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs. Thank you, Commissioner Shea and the entire NYPD, for continuing to show us why you should be abolished.”
By sundown, huge crowds gathered around the Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights movement began with riots in 1969. Though organizers encouraged social distancing, many crowded together and were not wearing masks.
“So many things happened for us that, yes, we deserve this moment. People are out here anyway. It rained. They’re still out here,” entertainer Aaron Williams said. “As you can see, nothing stopped us. That spirit is still here.”
The NYPD said Sunday’s events were mostly peaceful, adding only the three alleged graffiti artists were arrested during the rally at Washington Square Park.