The originators of the modern LGBTQ rights movement are getting a long overdue apology.
New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill on Thursday apologized for "discriminatory and oppressive" actions the department took when raiding the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago. O'Neill previously and pointedly avoided making the apology, but on Thursday said he "vow[ed] to the LGBTQ community that this would never happen in the NYPD in 2019," The New York Times reports.
Around the time of the Stonewall uprising, raids on gay bars under the guise of other offenses were common. But patrons fought back that night and in the days after, resulting in dozens of arrests and injuries. Now, during Pride Month and as Stonewall's 50th anniversary approaches, O'Neill said he'd decided "it would be irresponsible" not to talk about and apologize for those events.
The announcement comes after City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay, on Wednesday called on the NYPD to apologize for the events half a century ago, telling radio station 1010 WINS he "would love for it happen this month." The NYPD has previously apologized for mishandled cases and to wrongfully convicted people. Yet when O'Neill was asked about apologizing for Stonewall two years ago, he declined and said he would "move forward" instead.
Critics have since pointed out that the NYPD and police in general have had a long history of raiding gay bars and spaces, and that continued law enforcement mistreatment of LGBTQ people, and specifically transgender people, continues today.