New York police chief apologises for raid that led to Stonewall riots, 50 years on

stonewall inn new york stonewall riots
Photo: Antigng/Wikimedia Commons

New York’s police commissioner has apologised on behalf of the police department for the raid that consequently led to the Stonewall riots.

James P O’Neill’s apology comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the rebellion at the legendary New York gay bar.


“I think it would be irresponsible to go through World Pride month and not speak of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969,” O’Neill said.

“I do know what happened should not have happened.

“The actions taken by the New York Police Department were wrong, plain and simple.”

O’Neill added: “The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologise.

“I vow to the LGBTQ community that this would never happen in the NYPD in 2019.

“We have, and we do, embrace all New Yorkers.”

Before the apology, NYC Pride said the NYPD had recently made “significant strides” in relations with LGBTIQ New Yorkers.

An apology for the Stonewall raid was a “small, albeit meaningful step” towards improving those relations, they said.

But larger systemic issues continue to cause harm to LGBTIQ people, especially transgender people and people of color, NYC Pride said.

Stonewall riots ‘a monumental change’ for LGBTQ Americans

On June 28, 1969, police raids conducted another of many raids at the tavern, under the pretence of liquor law violations.

As a result, hundreds of LGBTIQ patrons and locals, fed up with with the continued police harassment, pushed back.

Protests at the site began in the early hours of the morning and lasted for several days.


The Stonewall riots helped bring the fight for LGBTIQ rights into the open. New York City held its first Gay Pride parade one year later.

In 2016, President Barack Obama declared the Stonewall Inn itself a national monument to recognise its cultural significance.

A plaque outside the venue explains the Stonewall uprising “marked a monumental change” for LGBTQ Americans.

“The uprising catalysed the LGBTQ civil rights movement, resulting in increased visibility for the community that continues to resonate in the struggle for equality.”

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