June 7, 2019 at 11:14 am PDT | by Mariah Cooper
NYPD apologizes for raiding Stonewall Inn 50 years ago

The Stonewall Inn. (Photo by Daniel Case; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The New York Police Department has issued an apology for raiding the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago, an event which sparked the Stonewall Riots and was the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

On June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn, a popular hangout spot for the LGBTQ community in Greenwich Village, on the grounds of the bar violating liquor laws. The police’s aggressive and violent treatment of the bar’s patrons resulted in a series of riots that marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

As New York City gears up for NYC Pride and World Pride, LGBTQ advocates pointed out the irony of the city hosting Pride events when the NYPD had never formally apologized.

“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,” New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said in an address at the NYPD headquarters on Thursday. “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.”

NYC Pride voted unanimously for the NYPD to “take responsibility” for its actions on June 28, 1969.

“Under Commissioner O’Neill, the NYPD has made significant strides in improving relations with LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers. But the department has yet to take responsibility for the decades of police violence committed against our community in New York City,” the organizers posted on Facebook. “Taking responsibility and apologizing for this single event is a small, albeit meaningful step towards improving the larger systemic issues that continue to cause significant harm to LGBTQIA+ people, especially transgender people and people of color. It demonstrates what is possible for the future of our community and our movement.”

NYC Pride thanked the NYPD for issuing an apology 50 years later.

Stonewall co-owner Stacy Lentz also praised the NYPD for finally apologizing to the LGBTQ community.

“It speaks volumes about the relationship between the NYPD and the LGBT community today. It’s crazy that it hadn’t happened until now. But the commissioner understands the need and importance of an apology. It’s a great step in terms of the continuing partnership between the police department and our community. I can’t believe it hadn’t happened before. Still we’re very fortunate,” Lentz told the New York Daily News.

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