In a historic first, the commissioner of the New York City Police Department has issued an apology on behalf of the department for the 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, June 6, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the officers who raided the iconic New York City gay bar 50 years ago and prompted an uprising among local LGBTQ activists were “in the wrong, plain and simple.”
“The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize,” O’Neill told reporters.
This has never happened: NYPD Commissioner @NYPDONeill apologizes on behalf of the NYPD for the Stonewall raid. Thank you, Commissioner. #pride2019 #NYCPride #WorldPride2019 pic.twitter.com/0pHHGdjzQK
— Erik Bottcher (@ebottcher) June 6, 2019
O’Neill’s statement marks the first time any representative of the NYPD has formally apologized for the police raid, which began the evening of June 28, 1969, and is largely credited for kick-starting the modern fight for LGBTQ equality in the United States.
“I vow to the LGBTQ community that this would never happen in the NYPD in 2019,” O’Neill added, reports The New York Times. “We have, and we do, embrace all New Yorkers.”
50 years later, the NYPD apologizes for raiding Stonewall. https://t.co/ogS4QiOWGV
— Eliel Cruz (@elielcruz) June 6, 2019
O’Neill’s remarks come during the lead-up to WorldPride 2019 and Stonewall50, both of which will take place in Manhattan later this month and are expected to attract millions of LGBTQ tourists from around the world.
Given the NYPD’s complicated history with the city’s LGBTQ community, some Stonewall veterans, including transgender activist Miss Major, have called for New York to ban police officers from participating in any citywide Pride festivities.
Cities like Sacramento, Calif., and Toronto, Canada, have already implemented policies prohibiting cops in uniform from marching alongside civilians. Sacramento Pride’s police policy, which was announced on May 31, is meant to “honor community members who have been harmed by police violence,” the organization wrote in a statement.