The New York Police Department (NYPD) has apologised for the historic raid on Stonewall Inn that led to the Stonewall riots, fifty years after the historic uprising.
The uprising began on June 28 in 1969 when police raided the popular gay bar. The police claimed the raid was due to a violation of liquor laws, yet baseless, violent police raids were also quite common at the time.
Rather than be escorted out quietly, the LGBTIQ+ patrons fought back, and for days after, hundreds of people rioted outside the bar, a riot that has become a seminal moment in the gay rights movement.
Earlier this week, NYC Pride said it had voted unanimously to demand that the NYPD apologise for the Stonewall raid, according to BuzzFeed News.
Hours later, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill addressed the LGBTIQ+ community at the NYPD headquarters.
“I think it would be irresponsible of me, as we go through World Pride Month, not to speak of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969,” he said.
“While I’m certainly not going to stand up here and pretend to be an expert on what happened at Stonewall, I do know what happened should not have happened.
“The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple. The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologise.”
Before O’Neill gave the speech, NYC Pride organisers took to Facebook to call for an apology.
“Under Commissioner O’Neill, the NYPD has made significant strides in improving relations with LGBTIQ+ New Yorkers,” the organisers wrote.
“But the department has yet to take responsibility for the decades of police violence committed against our community in New York City.
“Taking responsibility and apologising for this single event is a small, albeit meaningful step towards improving the larger systemic issues that continue to cause significant harm to LGBTIQ+ people, especially transgender people and people of color.
“It demonstrates what is possible for the future of our community and our movement.”
Related reading: ‘When the gays fought back’: 40 years on from the Stonewall riots