Militant Journalism

NYC organizers celebrate militant history of Stonewall rebellion, denounce police presence

On June 26, around 30 people gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park for a speak out to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and Pride’s revolutionary history as a struggle against police harassment and capitalism. The action was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

The speak out, which is held annually by PSL, was initially scheduled to take place at the Stonewall National Monument a few blocks away, but had to be relocated at the last minute due to heavy police presence and barricades that completely blocked access to the site. The backup location, the Marsha P. Johnson Fountain located at the Christopher Street Pier, was also blockaded due to heavy police presence. Throughout the speak out, New York City Police Department officers swarmed the park and policed the streets as the Pride 2022 Parade and Queer Liberation March took place a few blocks away. 

Heavy police presence an affront to the queer liberation struggle

Organizers at the action drew attention to the large number of police in the area, and the affront it presented to the memory of Stonewall. 

“Why is the NYPD policing the Stonewall Inn, the Stonewall area, the West Village?” asked PSL organizer Vincent Tsai. “Why is it when we’re trying to have Pride 2022, we got all these cops out here? Do they know that Stonewall was a fucking riot? Do they know that the Stonewall riots were started by Black trans women?” 

“We know that the uprisings that launched the queer liberation movements were struggles against police harassment and police brutality, led by queer and trans people oppressed under capitalism!” said Amanda Yee. “​​Look at the police presence around here today! This was exactly what the early queer activists struggled against!”

Throughout the action, speakers consistently reminded the crowd that the presence of police was an assault on LGBTQ and working class people’s fight for liberation. 

Adina Benno, a public school teacher, called attention to City Hall’s co-optation of the LQBTQ flag to honor Pride month, as New York City lawmakers recently defunded public education by cutting “over $1 billion from the Department of Education budget and adding $11 billion to the police budget.” Benno went on to point out that over 41% of trans people have attempted suicide and that the increase in police budgets does nothing to guarantee physical and mental health care for a community struggling for both. 

Tsai, who organized the event, noted that more funds for the police meant fewer funds to address the needs of the people.

“The NYPD shut down the Christopher Street Piers, an iconic gay landmark that was, and is, a safe gathering space for queer youth, specifically Black and Latino youth,” said Tsai. “The harsh contradiction of Pride’s origins of rebellion against police and today’s over-policed Pride celebration is a call for us to fight back against racist, sexist, and homophobic NYPD, and demand funds to be directed to actual community resources for LGBTQ people!”

‘We shouldn’t have to beg for our existence’

Organizers at the rally also drew the importance of uniting the working class in coalition to defeat the exploitative system of capitalism.

“We represent more than our communities — we represent the vast diversity of the working class!” said Natalia Marques. “It means that everyone, LGBTQ or not, is under the same system — capitalism! A system that will throw you out as soon as your existence is inconvenient for them.”

Marques noted that the speak out took place just days after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively denying women and genderqueer people autonomy over their bodies. 

“Now we have another fundamental human right, a fundamental part of our reproductive healthcare, taken away from us by nine unelected judges!” they exclaimed. “Don’t be fooled, they won’t stop at abortion!” 

Despite the setback of the Supreme Court decision, speakers remained steadfast in their determination to keep fighting.

“We are in the struggle for trans rights, immigrant rights, and for Black liberation. All these struggles are connected and interconnected,” explained Leonardo Ruales. “That is why we need to continue fighting and organizing against this system — because we deserve a better society … we shouldn’t have to beg for our existence!”

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