A peaceful protest over Pride weekend in NYC ended in a violent confrontation with police, who arrested and pepper-sprayed queer people marching for equal rights.
Videos shared on social media show police officers shoving bystanders to the ground, hitting them with batons and unleashing pepper-spray on crowds.
Things reportedly began to escalate when one protestor was arrested at 5pm – by police officers who had their badge numbers covered – and crowds began demanding they were released.
Eliel Cruz, who posted his footage of the day to Twitter told BuzzFeed News it was “very chill” initially.
“Then I saw 20 cops on bikes and a few cop cars speed up right away, so I walked a little quicker.”
He added: “We were demanding the police release the protester, and they started to beat people… There were more cops running toward the crowds and pushing people.”
Organisers of the protest slammed NYC’s mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement which read:
“At the exact moment that Mayor de Blasio tweeted about honouring Stonewall and the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, the NYPD completely overreacted with unprovoked physical violence — including pepper spraying their own colleagues.”
“Using pepper spray against the Black and queer community, beating LGBTQIA+ protestors with batons and bicycles, and intimidating our right to peacefully assemble, reflects the wanton disregard that the mayor, along with the NYPD, have for the lives and safety all Black and queer New Yorkers.”
The incidents are a disturbing echo to the first ever Pride riot at Stonewall in which a number of LGBTQ were injured in a raid on the venue.