Police Pepper Sprayed Queer Liberation Protestors. It Only Strengthened The Movement.

Brianna Provenzano

Pride Month holds a special place in the heart of New Yorkers on any given year, but this year especially — amid ongoing confrontations over police brutality across the country — these celebrations took on outsized meaning.

At Sunday evening’s Queer Liberation March, Police clashed with protesters during on the 51st anniversary of the historic Stonewall Riots in New York City, unleashing a barrage of pepper spray and shoving terrified demonstrators who stood in their path.

Posts shared on social media show the moment where cops, who attempted to make arrests, resorted to violence and instead caused a packed crowd to panic and stampede in response to the chaos. In a livestream published on Facebook, protesters can be seen with fists raised in a peaceful show of solidarity, chanting “let them go” and attempting to intervene as officers cart off two individuals on graffiti charges related to the defacement of a police vehicle.

The violent dustup threatened to cause a “second Stonewall,” said the man who published one Facebook livestream wrote, as a months-long, nationwide standoff with police over the brutality they disproportionately inflict on minority groups threatened to boil over into a full-on riot. “When we saw the eruption of protests, we were reminded of AIDS-era activism,” Jon Carter, a member of the Reclaim Pride coalition that helped found the Queer Liberation March, told The Daily Beast. “There are times when physical presence in the streets speaks volumes.” 

“As we marched toward Washington Square Park at the end of the event, I saw New York Police Department (NYPD) officers push people down and beat them in the street, a painful echo of history,” Lucy Diavolo writes for Teen Vogue. “The entire experience was a harrowing reminder that queer liberation — a future where LGBTQ people are free not just from discrimination, but from all the oppressive systems that hold everyone down — must include police abolition among its goals.” 

Since 2019, the Queer Liberation March has been held to commemorate the 1969 uprising that resulted after police attempted a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular Greenwich Village gay club in Manhattan. Gay patrons, grown weary of the constant police surveillance of community hotspots, revolted, throwing bottles at responding officers in a riot that is still considering the start of the Pride movement.

Pippa Bianco, a volunteer with NourishNYC, told Gothamist she watched fellow protesters get pepper sprayed as officers held her down.“I was totally peaceful, we all were — I was picking up food for a volunteer food station when the cops rushed into the crowd in a panic and started the violence,” she said.

Queer justice movements have long held overlapping interests with movements for Black empowerment, dating back to the Black Panthers and their collaboration with the Queer Liberation Front in the 1960s. This year’s pride celebration, which took place during the same month that marches and rallies for the Black lives taken by police have disrupted life in every corner of the city, brought with it a new opportunity for intersectional allyship. This served as yet another awakening moment for protestors who are fighting to abolish police in favor of new security systems — a movement that does not seem to be slowing even in the fact of tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.

“I’ve been going to a lot of Black Lives Matter protests, and I’m a gay person, and I feel we need to be in the streets and fighting for the rights of Black trans people,” one East Village resident named Todd told the Daily Beast. “This is what queer Pride should be.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Police Are Going On Strike. Should Anyone Care?

North Carolina Officers Are Under Fire For Racism

Why Protestors Continue To Set Up Autonomous Zones

More From

  • Your Horoscope This Week

    It’s time for us to open our eyes. The Lunar Eclipse reaches its fullest point in security-minded Capricorn in the early-morning hours of July 5 (between midnight and 1 a.m. EST). A light is being shone on aspects of our lives that we were once unaware of, and it’s critical to pay attention. New paths will be revealed, though we may need to dedicate some quiet time to a mindfulness practice to see them. Luckily, the Eclipse supports our intuition and encourages us to finally let go of old ways of thinking or acting that are holding us back.  The Lunar Eclipse is supported by a trine with change-loving Uranus, which may compel us to discuss our innovative ideas. But it opposes thoughtful Mercury, which can cause some confusion or fogginess — so take time working through your emotions and feelings before you speak, and listen carefully to others.  The Moon is void-of-course on Tuesday, and she will remain void for a full day, until Wednesday afternoon. Void Moons are known for halting action and promoting introspection, so these are great days to sit with your emotions, to heal, and to collect your thoughts. The Moon enters Aries on Saturday at just past 1 a.m. EST, stirring up a more active, ambitious energy.  Be careful with your words on Wednesday, when messenger Mercury forms a square against warrior Mars. It’s easy for us to get fired up against each other. Avoid jumping to conclusions during this transit. Work to be patient with others — then blow off steam by dancing out your feelings, or going for a quick run to clear your thoughts. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Your July HoroscopeThis Mercury Retrograde, Prepare To FightThe 2020 Revolution Was Written In The Stars

  • The Long-Weekend Fashion Sales You Can Still Shop Today

    We don’t need to remind anyone that July 4th celebrations are going to look a little different this year. In lieu of crowded backyard barbecues, we'll be searing hot dogs on individual mini grills from a safe social distance of six feet. And, instead of pouring rosé out of a shared cooler while not really keeping track of whose glass is whose, we'll be sipping bottled to-go cocktails beneath the cover of face masks. But, despite all of these time-honored traditions being in a state of flux, there is a holiday staple that we can still expect: the sales. As sure as the sun rising in the east, the annual influx of 4th of July sales is business as usual with many of the deals already in full swing — and they don’t disappoint. Click through to see what scores we rustled up this year. No matter how you end up celebrating the long weekend ahead, don’t forget to don your mask! At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Wayfair's July 4th Sale Is Up To 70% OffThe Black One-Pieces Online Shoppers Swear By23 Red Swimsuits For Every 4th Of July Pool Party

  • R29 Readers’ Top Stay-At-Home Picks Are All On Sale For July 4th

    After spending many, many months indoors recently, it's very possible that you already know your way around a good cyber sale. But just when you thought you'd be swapping screen time for sunshine in honor of one star-spangled holiday this weekend, let us remind you that the 4th of July is also a major moment for some of the year's biggest markdowns on everything furniture, decor, rugs, and more. And while we're on the topic of that stay-at-home life we've grown accustomed to as of late, we'd like to point out that many of our R29 readers' favorite finds over lockdown (fire pits, desk chairs, and breathable bedding, to name a few) are having their prices slashed, all in the name of patriotism as July 4 draws near. So we're breaking down the top holiday deals by category featuring the season's most-loved home items so you're well-prepared to ride the wave of promotions that's on its way. With discounts of up to 70% off from popular retailers like Wayfair and Lulu and Georgia, it'll be worth the extra few minutes at your computer. The more efficient your sale shopping, the more time you've got to soak up that all-too-precious vitamin D, so click through our roundup of unmissable steals ahead and keep checking back — we'll be updating this list as long as the markdowns are marching in. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?All The Home Sales You May As Well Shop While WFHUpgrade Your Bedroom Decor With This Design HackWayfair's July 4th Sale Is Up To 70% Off

  • It’s Hot. Here’s How To Make Your Face Mask More Comfortable

    I’m going to kick this off with two statements that are likely beyond obvious to you (unless you’ve spent the first half of 2020 living off the land in the desolate wilderness with nothing but a penknife and a ball of cord to keep you company, à la My Side of The Mountain). You should be wearing a mask. And it’s freaking hot outside. What do these two things have to do with other? Well, wearing a mask in the heat is a pain. Masks can get sweaty, feel stuffy, and can even leave us with a heat rash.“It’s worth acknowledging that masks are uncomfortable, especially when it’s hot and humid,” says Nate Favini, MD, medical lead at Forward, a concierge medical service. “They’re annoying, and I don’t think we should pretend that’s not true. I’m empathetic — but it doesn’t mean that wearing a mask isn’t crucial.” Because the fact is, face masks work. They reduce transmission, helping to curb the spread of coronavirus and to quite literally save lives. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an increasing number of cases, so it’s more important than ever to wear a mask,” says Natasha Bhuyan, MD, One Medical’s regional medical director. “Until we have a vaccine, widespread masks are our best defense against this virus.”But when it’s hot and sticky outside, and the humid air you’re exhaling is getting trapped by your mask, things might get a little stifling, admits Dr. Bhuyan. (To be clear: While there’s a myth circulating that wearing a mask can lower oxygen levels, it’s not true. Doctors and nurses wear them all day long, and they’re doing okay. “Even though we are exhaling carbon dioxide, it already exists in the environment… Wearing the mask does not increase this risk,” Dr. Bhuyan says.)So, yes, wearing a face mask on a 100-degree day is still worth it. And to make it easier on you, we asked doctors for their best tips for staying comfortable while doing your civic duty and covering your face in steamy temps. Get a more breathable mask. Choose one that has more structure than those that lie flat against your mouth. But Dr. Favini cautions that the more breathable a mask is, the less protection it may offer to the people around you. “There’s the tension of wanting people to have masks that are more comfortable versus wanting them to have ones that are more effective.” So if you’re going to be indoors and/or around others, wear a more effective mask, even if it makes you feel hotter. (Or layer up. Which brings us to…)Choose the right material. This is especially important if you’re getting heat rashes from your mask. “Consider fabrics that are either natural, like cotton, or synthetic fabrics that wick away sweat, such as fabric found in exercise clothing,” says Ted Lain, MD, dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology. “The latest recommendation is to use multiple layers of fabric to produce the most effective protective barrier to the virus, so instead of using a thick cotton, consider a thinner cotton fabric but layering it.”Bring backups. A sweaty mask stinks — literally and figuratively. So have a few fresh ones in your bag. That way if you sweat through one, you’ll have another at the ready. This can make you more comfortable, and prevent breakouts. “Sweating and the humidity in the mask area certainly can lead to a dermatitis, or even an acne breakout,” says Dr. Lain. Pack each extra in a clean, sealable plastic baggie so it won’t be exposed to any germs before you slip it on your face.Time your “chin strap” moments. Sure, if you’re totally alone, then it’s fine to pull your mask down and take a few deep breaths. But then pull it back up, Dr. Favini says: “Wearing your mask down around your chin is like having a condom and leaving it on the nightstand while you have sex.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?