Police hunt for three men who vandalised Stonewall National Monument

Pride flag vandalism

Police are calling on the public to help identify three men in relation to a possible hate crime in which multiple Pride flags on display at New York City’s Stonewall National Monument were destroyed.

New York City Police (NYPD) told PinkNews on Tuesday (12 June) that its hate crimes force is investigating the vandalism allegedly caused by a group of three men over the weekend. 

An NYPD spokesperson urged the public to assist the force in identifying the men in connection with a “criminal mischief”.  

They added: “It was reported to police that on Saturday, 10 June, at approximately 0310 hours, three unknown male individuals were walking past the Stonewall National Monument in Christopher Park and began breaking multiple LGBTQIA+ Pride flags that were displayed on a fence. 

“The individuals then fled on foot.” 

Gay city council member, Erik Bottcher, took to Twitter to post images of the vandalised flags along with a message of solidarity to the LGBTQ+ community. 

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He wrote: “If anyone thinks this is going to intimidate us or weaken our resolve, they’re mistaken.”

The monument is adjacent to the Stonewall Inn, a queer nightclub which became the site of historic rights in June 1969.

Even before the uprising, Stonewall was seen by many queer New Yorkers as a refuge from an unwelcoming, violent world.

“The minute you walked into Stonewall, there was a change,” Mark Segal, an activist and eyewitness to the uprising, told PinkNews in 2019.

Today, the bar and nearby Christopher Park are recognised as a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.

The attack on the monument comes as LGBTQ+ people across the world celebrate Pride month.

Batt Close Pride 2023
Batt Close Pride 2023 – the “world’s smallest Pride” – saw around 80 people attend, doubling last year’s turnout in Warwickshire.. (Ben Goodwin)

These celebrations come in all shapes and sizes. In Warwickshire, in the UK, around 80 people attended the “world’s smallest” Pride event which was started by residents who wanted to support the LGBTQ+ community. 

But not all Pride events have been welcomed, with a secondary school in Derbyshire being forced to cancel its event after right-wing national media stirred up “fury” over its non-school-uniform-day plans. 

Retailer Target in the US, continues to face criticism from pro-LGBTQ+ groups after it removed Pride merchandise following a backlash from right-wing “extremist groups”.

Also this month, the Human Rights Commission issued its first-ever “state of emergency” for LGBTQ+ people in the US.

The warning comes as more than 76 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law in the US this year alone, more than any other similar period on record.

Anyone with information about the monument incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline on 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish-speakers, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

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