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Cops were told to stay away from New York City’s Pride celebrations this year, but they clearly didn’t listen.
Eight people were arrested on Sunday after skirmishes between the New York Police Department and people celebrating Pride in and around Washington Square Park in New York City. Reporters on the scene described a wave of battle-ready cops descending on the park.
“I am currently watching NYPD charge Washington Square Park with riot gear (helmets, pepper spray, batons),” tweeted Business Insider reporter Meredith Cash. “Potentially to break up Pride celebrations? It certainly looks like they are confronting people celebrating pride from my vantage point.”
Cops and Pride attendees can be seen tussling in a brief clip posted by Christine Chung, a reporter for The City, a local New York outlet. “There’s talk of mace happening right now at Washington Square Park. There is a sea of cops here,” Chung captioned the clip, which as of Monday morning had been viewed upwards of 660,000 times.
“The police, in riot gear and on bicycles, are now blocking the entire road near the arch and now nobody is allowed to cross the road,” Chung tweeted shortly afterward. “Things are still tense but the cops have stopped moving closer to the gathering in the park.”
Four of the people arrested were in Washington Square Park, and were given summonses for disorderly conduct, an NYPD spokesperson said in an email to VICE News. Another four were arrested around the area of the park, and are facing charges for resisting arrest, obstructing administration, and criminal possession of a weapon.
The NYPD spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment on the accusations of using pepper spray.
In a tweet, the New York state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the police presence at Pride.
“Once again, police are bringing escalation and violence to Pride,” the NYCLU said. “Arrests, riot gear, and pepper spray have no place at a nonviolent and celebratory Pride march.”
This year, NYC Pride organizers banned uniformed cops and corrections officers from marching in groups at Pride events until 2025, citing a need to “create safer spaces for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC and trans communities, has continued to escalate.”
The Gay Officers Action League said that the decision left their organization “disheartened.”
“Heritage of Pride (NYC Pride) has long been a valued partner of our organization and its abrupt about-face in order to placate some of the activists in our community is shameful,” the group said in a statement.