Stonewall raids: Police apology for violence 'long overdue' say activists

NYPD commissioner James O'Neill said: 'The actions and laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologise'

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver
New York
Thursday 06 June 2019 21:29 BST
The legendary Stonewall Inn
The legendary Stonewall Inn (istock)

Police have apologised for violence perpetrated on the LGBTQ+ community 50 years ago during the notorious Stonewall Inn raid, but some activists said the words were “long overdue”.

As LGBTQ+ individuals celebrate June as Pride Month, New York police department commissioner James O’Neill apologised for the actions of officers during the 1969 raid, which inspired a series of riots that helped spark the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

“I think it would be irresponsible to go through World Pride month and not to speak of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969,” said Mr O’Neill. “I do know what happened should not have happened.”

The commissioner made his comments at New York police headquarters during a safety briefing on Pride month, 50 years after the pivotal riots in 1969, where he said: “The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple.”

Mr O’Neill continued: “The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologise.”

“I vow to the LGBTQ+ community that this would never happen in the NYPD in 2019. We have, and we do, embrace all New Yorkers.”

Sarah McBride, the a spokesperson for the Human Rights campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ+ campaign group, told The Independent: This is an important and long overdue gesture in the reconciliation process. While other law enforcement agencies should follow suit, these steps are also only one part of a larger solution to ensuring safety for LGBTQ+ people.

“Law enforcement jurisdictions across the country must take steps to address the contemporary issues facing LGBTQ+ people, particularly those of colour, in the criminal justice system.”

She added: “From ending profiling to combating the epidemic of violence targeting Black transgender women, meaningful reforms in policies, practices and laws across the country are urgently needed.”

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While some are celebrating the apology as a genuine attempt at rectifying past actions, others have pointed out the apology comes 50 years after the incident.

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