Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Queer Liberation March Brings Tens of Thousands to the Streets — Police Attack Them with Pepper Spray

At yesterday’s Queer Liberation March for Black Lives & Against Police Brutality, the second annual march of the Reclaim Pride Coalition, cops engaged in the usual brutal oppression of protests with renewed vigor. In contrast to their behavior at the corporatized Heritage of Pride parade, in which cops march side by side with protesters, the police reminded the LGBTQ+ community that they have no place in our movements.

Olivia Wood

June 29, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

Thousands of LGBTQ+ people took to the streets in New York City today for the second annual Queer Liberation March, organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition. The Coalition had originally planned to hold virtual programming this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the non-profit group Heritage of Pride had planned to host the city’s main parade remotely as well. However, when protests against police violence sprung up all over the globe after the murder of George Floyd last month, the Coalition decided they needed to be marching too, pandemic or no pandemic. They named this year’s march “The Queer Liberation March for Black Lives & Against Police Brutality.”

Last year, the Queer Liberation March was created as a counter to the corporatized Heritage of Pride March, where banks and insurance companies drape themselves in rainbow flags and pretend they support the queer community. Meanwhile, they hyper-exploit workers, destroy environments, and refuse loans and health insurance to the most poor and oppressed among us. They don’t belong at Pride. Even the police have been known to march at Pride, draping themselves in rainbows even as they have the blood of LGBTQ+ and other oppressed people on their hands. That’s why queer organizers are demanding that cops get out of pride; Stonewall was a riot against the cops. 

The Queer Liberation March runs counter to this: No cops or corporations at Pride. No pride in rainbow capitalism. It intends to bring Pride back to its roots, and to reclaim Pride from the tentacles of corporate America. 

The 2019 Queer Liberation March was full of protesters carrying signs on a wide range of political issues, from racism to environmentalism, from capitalism to global imperialism. All of these were also present this year, but in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, the march focused on police violence against Black people, with slogans like “Black Trans Lives Matter,” “Defund the Police,” and “Disarm the Police.” The official stance of the march calls on New York City to cut the NYPD’s budget by at least 50 percent.

Marchers first gathered at Foley Square and then set off around 1:30, passing by the Occupy City Hall encampment before turning uptown and heading to the Stonewall Inn. After pausing for a time at Stonewall to rest and celebrate, the March continued on to Washington Square Park, where a rally was scheduled. Police presence had seemed fairly minimal at the beginning of the March, with officers standing along the sides of the stream of protesters in small groups. Protesters chanted, “Quit your job!” as they walked by.

However, several streets around Stonewall were blocked by police barricades, and shortly after marchers arrived at Washington Square Park, NYPD officers erupted into unprovoked violence.

So far there have been confirmed reports of protesters getting pepper sprayed, rumors of tear gas, and a currently unknown number of arrests. NBC caught on video one NYPD officer violently pushing someone off of their bike, and several videos posted to Twitter show police — usually not wearing masks — shoving and shouting at protesters. In one case, eyewitnesses reported that police had been trying to arrest two people for graffiti and began pepper spraying the protesters who tried to intervene. In another, protesters chanted “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” while police pushed their way into the crowd.

While his police force was terrorizing LGBTQ+ people downtown, Mayor Bill DeBlasio was busy tweeting the following: 

Yesterday’s events are a prime example of both why cops don’t belong in Pride and how support for the movement from government leaders is always conditional, always predicated on political expediency and maintaining the status quo. 

Whatever DeBlasio’s personal feelings about LGBTQ+ people, his ongoing support for the NYPD shows that he is no ally. LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately victims of police violence and incarceration, and last year, trans woman Layleen Polanco Xtravaganza died in jail on Rikers Island after guards refused to provide her with medical care during a seizure. Only a month later, DeBlasio “vowed to protect” trans people by announcing a monument for Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. While monuments to LGBTQ+ history are certainly a good thing, such a monument does not fix or even mitigate any of the problems that led to Polanco’s death. Today, despite his tweets, DeBlasio showed exactly how much he really cares about LGBTQ+ people by sending the police after them yet again.

As one of the chants ringing through Greenwich Village at the second annual Queer Liberation March proclaimed: “We don’t buy it! Stonewall was a riot!”

Facebook Twitter Share

Olivia Wood

Olivia is a writer and editor at Left Voice and an adjunct English lecturer in the NYC metropolitan area.

Gender & Sexuality

Over 20,000 March in New York City for Abortion Rights

Thousands of people marched in New York City and around the country for abortion rights.

Left Voice

May 15, 2022

Nonprofit Professional Employees Union Condemns Attack on Abortion Rights

The Nonprofit Professional Employees Union's statement in defense of abortion rights.

Left Voice

May 10, 2022

CUNY for Abortion Rights

CUNY needs to stand up for abortion rights. Join us!

Left Voice

May 6, 2022
New York abortion rights protesters on May 3, 2022

Pan y Rosas Stands in Solidarity with Movement for Abortion Rights

International group Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses) stands in solidarity with the movement for abortion rights.

Pan y Rosas

May 6, 2022


The Kids Are Alright: Meet the 17 Year Olds That Want to Unionize Starbucks

They haven't finished high school yet, but they are already fighting to organize the first union at Starbucks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Driven by the unionization wave sweeping the country, two 17-year-olds are organizing with their coworkers through a chat called "Union Babes" and fighting the company's union-busting campaigns.

Police office crouches behind a riot shield which reads "Shelby Township Police"

BLM Leader In Court to Challenge Racist and Retaliatory Charges

A Detroit leader of the Black Lives Matter movement is set to appear in court to challenge racist and retaliatory felony charges for marching to demand the firing of a Chief of Police who called BLM protestors “subhuman” and said they belonged in “body bags”.

Somali troops stand in formation during a graduation ceremony after being trained by U.S. forces in Mogadishu on Aug. 17, 2018.

Biden Is Expanding U.S. Military Intervention in Somalia

President Biden recently approved an order to send hundreds of troops to Somalia. This move serves the interests of U.S. imperialism by taking advantage of the very political instability it helped create.

Sam Carliner

May 20, 2022
Semi-empty store shelf with a few cans of baby formula.

The Baby Formula Shortage Is a Capitalist Crisis of Social Reproduction

The baby formula shortage is a consequence of capitalism and a crisis of social reproduction. Formula should not be commodified and sold — it should be free and a basic right for all parents.