Just about 50 years after NY police clashed with gay rights activists at the Stonewall Inn, the city's police commissioner, James O'Neill, has apologized for the department's raid on that tumultuous night in 1969.
Interested in LGBTQ? Add LGBTQ as an interest to stay up to date on the latest LGBTQ news, video, and analysis from ABC News. "The actions were discriminatory and oppressive and for that I apologize". "And yet these same officers are expected to accept the consequences of actions they played no part in", said the statement, "...despite the work they have done to affect change from within.
"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, at June of 1969", he said. "I'm certainly not going to stand up here and pretend to be an expert on what happened at Stonewall". "It's just fantastic. It's unfathomable to me", Mark Segal, a gay activist and journalist who was at the Stonewall Inn during the raid, said in an interview with NPR.
"The NYPD, as an institution, needed to take responsibility for what happened at Stonewall".
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The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots is coming up on June 28th of this year.
The raid at the Stonewall, a gay bar in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood, sparked protests that helped launch a civil rights movement. A park across from the Stonewall now houses first national monument to gay rights.
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Commissioner O'Neill and the NYPD have made significant strides in improving relations with LGBT New Yorkers.
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Eventually, more than 90 per cent of the charges were dropped, but as in NY, the police action galvanized Toronto's LGBT community to fight for their rights and find a political voice. And so, to gay rights activists, the police commissioner's apology on Thursday was long overdue.
And while Segal said O'Neill's apology will help work toward closure, he is calling on O'Neill to appear during the June 30 pride parade and apologize in person, something O'Neill has not committed to. Thank you Commissioner O'Neill. In New York City, the Gay Officers Action League had to fight in federal court for the right to wear their uniforms in the NYC Pride March.
"I think it would be an important step toward further healing and reconciliation, and recognizing what happened in that crucial moment", Johnson said.
The department unveiled the plan during its first Pride Month Safety Briefing, where it also honored its LGBTQ officers.
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