Thursday, June 7, 2012

At Historic Stonewall Inn, LGBT Groups Condemn Stop and Frisk, Unveil National Coalition to Fight Racial Profiling, Police Harassment

CEO Marjorie Hill provided remarks at the coalition launch
On Tuesday, June 5, at the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where a backlash against police harassment in June 1969 launched the modern LGBT rights movement, LGBT organizations from around the country joined civil rights leaders, labor leaders, and elected officials to announce support for the campaign against stop and frisk, and participation in the Father's Day silent march against racial profiling, which has been organized by the NAACP, National Action Network, and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The Stonewall gathering was convened by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which played a lead role in bringing LGBT organizations together to unveil this unprecedented national coalition that will apply a new source of pressure on the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg to curtail the stop and frisk policy. At the event, stop and frisk was criticized by a long list of speakers who called it both ineffective as a public safety tool and blatantly discriminatory against LGBT people and people of color.

A diverse group of participants connected the LGBT movement and civil rights movement through shared experiences with police harassment and discrimination based on identity. A full list of LGBT organizations endorsing the march is available here and below are statements from numerous participants in the Stonewall gathering.

"Too many people have been victimized and harmed by the stop and frisk policy, and we plan to march in record numbers on Father's Day to show that discrimination, harassment, and profiling based on identity is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This is one struggle-one fight-we're all committed to winning. The fight against stop and frisk is a LGBT fight, a civil rights fight, a labor movement fight, a fight for justice and equality-a fight that unites all of us as one movement. We're telling the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg that all New Yorkers deserve to live free of discrimination and harassment," said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

"There is no better time than LGBT Pride month and no better place than the Stonewall Inn to unveil this national coalition of organizations and to show that shared experiences with police harassment and discrimination unify LGBT people and people of color. By coming together, we are telling the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg that as advocates for equality and justice, we are mobilizing against criminalization based on identity," said Jeffrey Campagna, a National LGBT Advocate and Movement Strategist and Co-Chair of the LGBT Table of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling.

"Police violence has always been and continues to be an LGBTQ issue: in our 2011 report we found that transgender people, people of color and transgender people of color were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience police violence throughout the country," said Sharon Stapel, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project and Co-Chair of the LGBT Table of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling. "Police profiling and targeting is institutionalized racism, homophobia and transphobia aimed at the people who don't conform with rigid race, gender or sex roles and is unacceptable state-sanctioned violence and AVP is actively working on solutions to end profiling and targeting. For as long as we are policed because of who we are, how we look, or who we choose to have sex with, racial profiling and stop and frisk will be an LGBTQ issue."

"I'm proud to stand with LGBT leaders in support of the Father's Day March," said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "Together we can send a message that more must be done to significantly reduce the number of unwarranted stops and to bridge the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve."

"The coming together of civil rights leaders and LGBT leaders on this issue is a historic union with broad social and political ramifications. If we fight for each others' issues it broadens and strengthens each respective movement," said Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network, a convener of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling, and MSNBC host, who endorsed marriage equality in 2004.

"The African American and LGBT communities have long histories of being harassed by the police," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President and CEO, a convener of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling. "In this silent march to end racial profiling we will stand together to tell City Hall and NYPD that discriminatory policing policies like stop-and-frisk will not be tolerated."

"We are proud to stand with the LGBT community on this important issue. Stop and frisk is a concern for all communities in this City as the young men who are so often targeted are our sons, brothers, nephews -- future fathers and community leaders. That's why on Father's Day, June 17th, 1199 SEIU will join with civil rights, faith, labor and community groups in a silent march to raise awareness on the city's stop and frisk policy. We urge all New Yorkers concerned about the future of our children and safety in our communities to march with on Father's day to take a stand against racial profiling," said George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a convener of the Silent March Against Stop and Frisk and Racial Profiling.

"The reality is that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color - including myself- are among those subjected to over 685,000 stops and frisks by the NYPD last year and we have been at the forefront of resistance to abusive policing long before Stonewall," said Chris Bilal a survivor of stop and frisk and a Youth Leader from Streetwise and Safe, an organization focused on the policing of LGBTQ youth of color. "Sometimes our experiences are no different than the rest of our communities, and sometimes they are marked by homophobia and transphobia in addition to racism and policing of poverty."

"As a transgender woman and a long time New Yorker, criminalizing a generation of young men in our city does not make me feel safe, not when the police confiscate 700 guns from 700,000 stops. It is time for the mayor and police to revisit the stop and frisk policy and replace it with common sense policing, based on real crime and not racial clich├ęs," said Melissa Sklarz, Director of New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO) and President of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City.

"We stand united against racial profiling and police harassment on the basis of a person's identity. LGBT people, especially those of color, know painfully well what it's like to be targeted and demeaned in this way," said Stacey Long, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Just as there was no sound reason to raid the Stonewall Inn in 1969, there is no sound reason to stop and frisk black and Latino men in 2012 simply for being who they are. This must end now."

"As a legal organization, Lambda Legal knows that a policy that alienates hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from law enforcement because of racism or homophobia, making people afraid of police and thus to report crimes or come forward as witnesses, does not make us safe," said Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director, Lambda Legal.

"Public safety is important but must not be a noose around the neck of young men of color, constraining them from reaching their potential and unfairly stigmatizing them. Stigma and shame often lead to devaluation of self and promotion of risky behaviors," said Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).

"LGBT Americans know too well what it means to be the target of biased policing and we are standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies to say that no group should be singled out for unfair treatment. While groups like the National Organization for Marriage have been exposed in trying to drive a wedge between the LGBT and people of color communities, we know the truth is that our communities overlap and intersect in ways that bring us together," said Marty Rouse, National Field Director, Human Rights Campaign.

"In 2012, Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD are on course to make over 800,000 "Stop and Frisks"! An increase of 1000% since 1999. Many of the "stops" involve LGBT people of color, members of the transgender community and our homeless LGBT youth. It is an unjust practice that is criminalizing an entire generation, and robs us of our essential dignity as human beings," said Robert Pinter, Campaign to Stop the False Arrests Police Reform Organizing Project.

"As a rabbi, as a lesbian, I am profoundly aware of the ways that "stop and frisk" police techniques have been used as weapons against Jews and gay people. It is wrong when it is used against and to intimidate gay people or Jews, and it wrong when it unfairly targets young men of color. Justice demands that we stand together. I'm proud to be here today," said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

"Stop-and-frisk abuses and other discriminatory NYPD practices exemplify racial profiling at its worst --targeting low-income communities of color throughout New York City and undermining public safety. Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is proud to stand with LGBT New Yorkers and others who are affected by racial and gender profiling by the NYPD, and who are mobilizing to end discriminatory, unlawful and ineffective NYPD practices," said Joo-Hyun Kang, Director, Communities United for Police Reform (CPR).

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