The up-and-coming Queer Liberation March threw their original plans for a virtual rally in reverse after the death of George Floyd, meeting in Foley Square on Sunday to not only celebrate their own pride but to support the call to defund the police.
Jay W. Walker, the founder of the Queer Liberation March, told amNewYork Metro about how 2020 has thrown the organization some curveballs starting with COVID-19, but ultimately supporting people of color in the streets became the prevailing strategy.
“Stonewall was a riot, we’re not rioting. We’re just standing here arm-and-arm with black folks, black trans folks, with brown folks, everybody that is under the boot of the police – not just NYPD – all over this country,” Walker said. “We had every intention of doing this again this year until Ms. ‘Rona showed up, so we canceled and went virtual. Then when we all saw Mr. Floyd being murdered before our eyes, we started getting out in the streets.”
And getting into the streets rather than protesting virtually lends further momentum to Walkers organization which is in opposition with the NYC Pride March on account of its corporate sponsors and other affiliations.
“The Queer Liberation March isn’t going anywhere, we’re going to be back every year and eventually we’re going to be the only march in town because we’re so much better,” Walker said.
Kicking off at Foley Square, the march moved past City Hall, where hundreds are still camped out to the northeast of the government buildings at Centre and Chambers Street. It would then move past the Stonewall Inn before setting in Washington Square Park.
The group of 200 or so demonstrating as part of Occupy City Hall has become a patchwork of sections dominated by sleeping bags, other parts are where art is being displayed, while small kiosks have been erected where cottage industry goods are distributed. The occupation began on June 23, the organizers plan to remain there until City Council adopts a plan for defunding NYPD by at least $1 billion in the fiscal year 2021 budget, due for passage on the 30th.
Walkers said there was a feeling of solidarity with the group no more than two blocks away, and hopes NYPD is taken out of the equation in situations involving a 911 call for a medical emergency or wellness checks and should not be tasked with homeless outreach.
“They are trained to commit violence against people… They need to be responding to actual crimes that actually have occurred, not suspecting that someone might commit a crime,” Walker added.
Last year, the Queer Liberation March attracted over 45,000 to its demonstration.