NEW YORK - On the night of Wednesday, September 26, officers from the
9th Precinct of the New York Police Department attacked without
provocation members of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and of its
community. Two of our community members were violently arrested, and others were pepper sprayed in the face without warning or cause.
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (www.srlp.org) is an organization that works on behalf of low-income people of color who are transgender,
gender non-conforming, or intersex, providing free legal services and
advocacy among many other initiatives. On Wednesday night, the Sylvia
Rivera Law Project was celebrating its fifth anniversary with a
celebration and fundraising event at a bar in the East Village.
A group of our community members, consisting largely of queer and
transgender people of color, witnessed two officers attempting to
detain a young Black man outside of the bar. Several of our community
members asked the officers why they were making the arrest and using
excessive force. Despite the fact that our community was on the
sidewalk, gathered peacefully and not obstructing foot traffic, the
NYPD chose to forcefully grab two people and arrested them. Without
warning, an officer then sprayed pepper spray across the group in a
wide arc, temporarily blinding many and causing vomiting and intense
"This is the sort of all-too-common police violence and overreaction
towards people of color that happens all the time," said Dean Spade,
founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. "It's ironic that we were
celebrating the work of an organization that specifically opposes
state violence against marginalized communities, and we experienced a
police attack at our celebration."
"We are outraged, and demand that our community members be released
and the police be held accountable for unnecessary use of excessive
force and falsely arresting people," Spade continued.
Damaris Reyes is executive director of GOLES, an organization working
to preserve the Lower East Side. She commented, "I'm extremely
concerned and disappointed by the 9th Precinct's response to the
situation and how it escalated into violence. This kind of aggressive
behavior doesn't do them any good in community-police relations."
Supporters will be gathering at 100 Centre Street tomorrow, where the
two community members will be arraigned. The community calls for
charges to be dropped and to demand the immediate release of those
The Audre Lorde Project
Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit & Transgender
People of Color communities
85 So. Oxford St. * Brooklyn, NY 11217
Tel: 718-596-0342 * Fax: 718-596-1328
Web: www.alp.org * Email: alpinfo @ alp.org