June 4, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
The targeting of minorities by law enforcement is prevalent no matter which minority is the subject of police harassment. Often the harassment of even white LGBT people is based on tactics perfected by their decades of use against nonwhites. Institutional bigotry against one group can and will be easily forced onto others. In New York, there’s rampant use of a “stop-and-frisk” policy, to stop and question ‘suspicious’ people, and likely search them. A report from the New York Civil Liberties Union recently showed that people who have been subjected to this policy are disproportionately nonwhite.
Now, LGBT rights organizations are joining the NAACP and other civil rights groups in protest against this policy:
In a news conference to take place at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar where in 1969 riots set off by a police raid became a watershed for the national gay rights movement, leaders of national rights groups for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will draw a connection between the gay rights movement and the current campaign against stop-and-frisk.
“We are all standing together against police harassment on the basis of a person’s identity,” Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said in an interview.
“There was no rational reason to raid the Stonewall Inn in 1969, and there is no rational reason to stop black and Latino men in 2012 and frisk them simply for being who they are,” she said.
The gay rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and the Empire State Pride Agenda, also plan to participate in a march on June 17 to protest the stop-and-frisk practice. The march is being organized by the N.A.A.C.P., the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, and 1199 S.E.I.U., a union of health care workers.
Discussing the National Organization for Marriage’s attempts to “drive a wedge” between gays and blacks, and the long-term right-wing strategy to divide and conquer us, NAACP President Ben Jealous suggests we need efforts like this to continue in the future and we need to stand up together against this cynical strategy:
“It just feels very hopeful to see the L.G.B.T. and civil rights communities repeatedly coming together these days.”
“It’s a very cynical game that the far right wing is playing,” Mr. Jealous said, adding, “that’s why it’s important for us to stand up in ways that are visible to take the stands that we have.”
It’s a great idea to have this press conference at the site of one of the riots that launched the LGBT rights movement. From the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots to the Stonewall Riots in 1969, our movement began in a way that matches what people in the civil rights movement are still dealing with even today. Where we can find similarities and build bridges, it’s important to try. No groups will ever have everything in common but we’re fighting for the same thing in the end. We all realize there are people trying to divide us in cynical and desperate ways and so it’s important to stand together.