NYPD Issues a Formal Apology for 1969 Stonewall Raid

New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill has apologized on behalf of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for the Stonewall Raid in 1969.During a June 6 briefing on security measures for the 50th anniversary of the raid, which is on June 28, O’Neil said the raid should not have occurred.

“It would be irresponsible of me to go through WorldPride 2019 and not speak of Stonewall in June 1969. What happened should not have happened. The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple,” O’Neill said in a video posted on Twitter. “The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive and, for that, I apologize.”

On June 28, 1969, the NYPD raided a gay club called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid started a string of confrontations between bar patrons, residents in the area, and the police that lasted for six days, The New York Times reported. The riots at the bar helped ignite the gay rights movement, according to The Times.

There were earlier calls for the NYPD to apologize. Before O’Neill’s apology, New York City Pride wrote on Twitter on June 6 demanding that the department apologize for the riots.“We demand @NYPDNews issue an apology to the LGBTQIA+ community for the violent police raid that triggered the #Stonewall Uprising. @NYPDONeill is offered the stage at the #Stonewall50 Commemoration Rally during #WorldPride2019 on June 28 to issue the apology,” the organization tweeted.

The organization thanked O’Neill for his apology on Thursday, writing in a statement on Twitter: “Thank you, @NYPDONeill and @NYPDnews. We are all very proud today!” WorldPride is known as a “culturally-diverse expression of the quest for equality and liberty of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people worldwide,” according to the NYC Pride 2019 website. The rallies to celebrate and promote rights for the LGBTI communities have been hosted in places like Rome, Madrid, Jerusalem, London and Toronto, the website states.

A WorldPride opening ceremony will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on June 26, according to the NYC Pride 2019 website. Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Khan, Ciara, Billy Porter, Daya, and Todrick Hall will perform. The proceeds from the ceremony will benefit LGBTQ organizations like the Ali Forney Center, Immigration Equality, and SAGE, the website states.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the WorldPride Opening Ceremony,” said Lauper in a statement. “I can’t wait to celebrate with my LGBTQIA+ friends and family from across the world.”Actress Whoopi Goldberg, an advocate for the LGBTQ community will host the ceremony, the website stated. “I’ve been a longtime advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community and this year marks a pivotal moment within our storied history and fight for equality,” said Goldberg in the statement. “Hosting a WorldPride event is an absolute honor and I am delighted [to] be a part of the Opening Ceremony in June.”

Earlier this month, New York City officials announced they would honor transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera with a monument near the Stonewall Inn. Johnson and Rivera, who were longtime advocates for the LGBTQ community, were also leaders during the Stonewall riots. Together, the two launched STAR, a housing organization for sex workers and LGBTQ youth.

“Transgender and non-binary communities are reeling from violent and discriminatory attacks across the country. Here in New York City, we are sending a clear message: we see you for who you are, we celebrate you, and we will protect you,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on May 30. “This monument to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will honor their pioneering role in the fight for human rights in our city and across the world.”

The monuments will be placed in the Ruth Wittenberg Triangle in Greenwich Village and is part of the She Built NYC campaign, which is a city public arts initiative that pays respect to pioneering women in history. “Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are undeniably two of the most important foremothers of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, yet their stories have been erased from a history they helped create,” First Lady Chirlane McCray said in the statement.

“From their leading role at Stonewall, to their revolutionary work supporting transgender and non-binary youth in our city, they charted a path for the activists who came after them. Today, we correct the record. The city Marsha and Sylvia called home will honor their legacy and tell their stories for generations to come.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.