New York police shoved, pepper sprayed and arrested LGBT+ people at a Queer Liberation march for Black Lives Matter yesterday (28 June).
The protest marked the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the usual date of New York Pride.
But what started as a peaceful protest spiralled out of control. Some protestors, fearing for their safety, took the knee and shouted ‘Don’t shoot’ to police.
Meanwhile video shows New York Police Department officers pepper spraying and shoving protestors.
One witness live streaming on Facebook said: ‘The NYPD is going ballistic.’
‘People were chanting “Don’t shoot” and many took a knee’
The trouble flared at Washington Square Park, a long-established site for protest – just five minutes from the famous Stonewall Inn.
Many of the protestors couldn’t see what sparked the violence. But reports later suggested the police tried to arrest two people for graffiti. At least one may have been vandalizing a marked police car with a black marker pen.
Protestors intervened and police responded by using force.
One protestor, Mike Perles, 29, told Gothamist: ‘We were dancing right in front of the arch on Fifth Avenue and out of nowhere, cops started storming into the crowd.
‘They pushed everyone in front of them out of the way and onto the ground. They pushed a reporter who was taking photos down and started randomly pepper spraying people.
‘I couldn’t see anyone instigating. It seemed like they felt out numbered after entering a huge group and panicked and started beating people up.’
And another witness, Marti Gould Cummings, who is running for New York’s city council, told BuzzFeed:
‘I was leaving Washington Square – there was a beautiful rally centering around black trans women. As we were leaving, we noticed a commotion directly in front of us and realized it was the police.
‘People were chanting “Don’t shoot” and many took a knee. The police escalated and used pepper spray and batons.’
Video footage also shows the police using force, with officers pepper spraying protestors. In one case, an officer shoved over a bystander on a bicycle.
Medics treated people who the NYPD had sprayed, including some officers who accidentally got pepper spray in their eyes.
However, the violence did eventually calm down and protestors to a peaceful and even celebratory event.