Brooklyn: Community mobilizes to protect Trans Day of Visibility event

SLL photo: Melinda Butterfield

Trans and queer activists and allies mobilized to defend a family Trans Day of Visibility event in Brooklyn, New York, on March 30. The event at Marsha P. Johnson State Park included arts and crafts, informational tabling, and a drag story hour for children and parents. The annual event was targeted for a second year by far-right anti-trans protesters. 

The community response was organized by NYC Queer and Trans Defense. This grassroots movement was created by activists in response to the growing number of fascist threats against queer events and venues, including drag story hour and Pride events at libraries, museums, and other public facilities in New York City.

Eight bigots showed up to protest the trans event, making hateful chants and waving signs like “God save our children” and a large U.S. flag. The goons would have been quickly dispersed and chased off by the defenders but were protected behind metal fencing by at least 12 armed New York State Troopers and parks police inside, as well as several NYPD cops stationed outside the park gate.

Outrageously, State Troopers and parks police brutally attacked a community defender, using the excuse that he briefly sat on the grass. The defender was jumped and wrestled to the ground by several of the armed goons, then handcuffed and handed over to the NYPD. He was taken to the 19th Precinct and released afterward with a violation – the kind of charge that would normally warrant a ticket, at most, not a violent arrest.

Despite this, community defenders successfully created a barrier of safety between the fascists and the families and performers who came out to the TDOV event. They held trans and other queer community flags and rainbow umbrellas, shook noisemakers, cheered, and sang to drown out the far right. 

Thanks to their efforts and the discipline of the parks’ workers and performers, the event went forward without any major disruptions.

The park that sponsors the annual TDOV event is named after Stonewall combatant Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman who played a historic role in founding the modern LGBTQ+ liberation struggle. Together with Sylvia Rivera, Johnson founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to protect trans street youth and fight for their voice within the early gay-lesbian rights movement.

International Trans Day of Visibility is marked every year on March 31. 

To get involved and learn about future actions, follow NYC Queer and Trans Defense on Instagram.

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