HRC Joins Leading Civil Rights Groups at NYC’s Historic Stonewall Inn
June 6, 2012 by Marty Rouse, National Field Director
HRC joined progressive allies in New York City this week during a press conference calling on the New York Police Department to end its discriminatory “stop-and-frisk” policy. This policy allows police officers to stop law-abiding citizens indiscriminately. The practice raises serious concerns over racial profiling. In 2011, officers stopped and questioned nearly 700,000 people under this policy; 87 percent of whom were African American or Latino. Transgender New Yorkers are particularly susceptible to unnecessary scrutiny by police simply for being perceived as “different.”
NAACP President Ben Jealous, Rev. Al Sharpton, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, SEIU 1199 President George Gresham as well as other labor unions, civil rights organizations and LGBT groups all stood together to oppose the “stop-and-frisk” policy and encourage participation in a July 17th silent march.
As the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, HRC understands the harmful effects biased policing can have. The modern gay rights movement was sparked in New York after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. The press conference on Tuesday was held at this historic establishment to underline the deep connections that the LGBT community has with its progressive allies. Too often, opponents of fairness and equality have tried to drive a wedge between the LGBT and people of color communities. HRC recently exposed a confidential strategy document of the National Organization for Marriage which stated that a key goal in its efforts to stop marriage equality was to “drive a wedge between blacks and gays.” Opponents of fairness and equality not only fail to recognize our shared humanity, they are blinded to the reality that our communities overlap and intersect.
In Maryland, SEIU/1199 is taking a leading role in the campaign for marriage equality; in North Carolina, the NAACP was out front and outspoken in its opposition to the discriminatory Amendment One that will take away protections from unmarried couples. And Reverend Al Sharpton was a leading voice in support for marriage equality in New York and continues to speak out nationwide.
Many thanks to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and its President Stuart Appelbaum who brought us all together. Thanks also to other key allies who participated, including Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Empire State Pride Agenda, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the NYC Anti-Violence Project and the Ali Forney Center. In addition, we would like to thank Fiona Dawson of the HRC Foundation Board of Directors and Pete Webb of the HRC Board of Governors for their presence at the press conference.
HRC plans to participate in a silent march with the other coalition partners on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17 in New York to continue the effort to end stop-and-frisk. If you would like more information about the march or would like to participate, you can visit the event page here.
On a personal note, as a native New Yorker it meant so much to return to the Stonewall Inn. I was there with other HRC field organizers last year to celebrate with several newlyweds who were married on the first day of marriage equality in New York. The Stonewall Inn is a special place for LGBT New Yorkers, and many others. It was special to see old friends and many new ones at the Stonewall Inn. Supporters of fairness and equality are a family. And families stick together.