The New York Police Department on Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising by unexpectedly offering a formal apology to the LGBTQ community.
The city’s police commissioner, James O’Neill, made the remarks during a safety briefing related to World Pride, which is being celebrated in New York this month.
“I think it would be irresponsible to go through World Pride month and not to speak of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969,” O’Neill said, as seen in the video above. “I do know what happened should not have happened.”
“The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple,” he went on. “The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize.”
The Stonewall uprising took place in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when the patrons of New York’s Stonewall Inn ― many of whom identified as LGBTQ ― fought back against a police raid. At the time, most states had anti-sodomy laws in place, effectively rendering homosexuality illegal, and such raids on LGBTQ establishments were common.
The event has come to be viewed as the symbolic start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. In 2016, President Barack Obama designated the inn and its environs in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood as the country’s first national monument to LGBTQ rights.
“The NYPD in the past has apologized for other incidents that have occurred, so I think the NYPD apologizing on this would be a very, very good thing, and it’s something they should do,” Johnson, who is gay, told 1010 WINS. “I would love for it [to] happen this month, and I will bring it up to the police commissioner.”
He continued: “I think it would be an important step toward further healing and reconciliation and recognizing what happened in that crucial moment, and not just in American history, but New York history, in June of 1969.”