LGBTQ youth take on NYPD
Published Jun 22, 2005 10:15 PM
project of transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, queer, and
questioning youth of color, ages 13 to 24— called a meeting with the NYPD
Sixth Precinct on June 21 at the LGBT Center. It was in response to ongoing
harassment by police of TLGBTSQQ youth in the West Village.
Set to take
place three days before the first Annual Trans Day of Action for Social and
Economic Justice, the meeting was part of a series of events aimed at kicking
off the PRIDE weekend but also raising political awareness.
of color spoke out at the meeting, giving testimonies of experiences
they’ve had with police all over the city, not just in the West Village.
Some had been told to move for no reason when socializing with friends. Many
described instances that began with being told to move and quickly escalated to
violent hate crimes. One young man told of being handcuffed and repeatedly
kicked by police, while they attacked him verbally as well.
concern raised was the ongoing harassment faced by youth from residents of the
West Village, who also tell them to move, yell insults and throw things from
their windows. One youth posed the question to police, “Why don’t
you do anything then?”
“I’m being harassed for three
reasons” said one young woman. “Because I am young, because I am a
woman, and because I am gay.” Unfortunately, her statement rings true for
almost all LGBTQ youth of color in the city who have been denied a place to come
together safely, and the right to self-expression and respect.
to the youth, the two police officers present on behalf of the Sixth Precinct
claimed they were unaware that these issues even existed. According to them, no
reports had ever been filed against the Sixth Precinct and they had never been
made aware that there was a problem.
They repeatedly brought up the
Civilian Complaint Review Board, urging youth to take their complaints there,
along with a name, badge number and description of the officer committing the
Past experiences, however, have taught youth that the CCRB, like
the police, cannot be trusted. According to a survey conducted by FIERCE, 85
percent of victims of police misconduct in New York City are Black or [email protected]
Also, those under the age of 25 represent 39 percent of the victims of police
misconduct, even though they comprise only 14 percent of the general population.
A total of 18,474 allegations were made against police officers in 2004. Of
those, only 8 percent resulted in disciplinary action.
Instances of abuse
raised by the youth were labeled “differences of opinion,” by the
police. The officers told the youth that “being asked to move was not
harassment” and that residents choosing to hurl insults at the youth were
merely exercising their rights to free speech.
The meeting ended
unresolved. The youth demand an end to the violence while the police refused to
even accept that it exists.
In discussions afterward, the youth made it
clear they were not fooled by the condescending manner of the police. They are
well aware that the harassment they have experienced has nothing to do with
crime and everything to do with racial and gender profiling.
demanded the Sixth Precinct be investigated and the attacks stop. One young
woman shouted, “We’re not going to take this any more …
it’s not healthy, it’s abusive!”
leaving the meeting, FIERCE youth congregated outside to plan the next step in
their ongoing struggle against police.
Historically, the West Village has
been a hot spot for police violence and abuses. But the LGBT community also has
a history—one deeply rooted in courage, strength and the tenacity to fight
back. This meeting, like the coming PRIDE weekend and the TransJustice march,
serve not only as celebrations of this history but as reminders that this is a
community that cannot be silenced and will not be defeated.
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