New York City Anti-Violence Project Condemns NYPD’s Violence at Pride After “Vow” to Never Repeat the Violence of Stonewall

This Sunday, June 28, 2020, protesters marching in the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives were attacked by police, who pushed them, beat them, and used pepper spray against them toward the end of the march in Washington Square Park. The New York City Anti-Violence Project strongly condemns this violence. Especially in light of all the actions taken over the past month, led by Black and brown New Yorkers to highlight and resist police violence in our city and nation, it is reprehensible for the NYPD to commit violence against our community in broad daylight, at a march commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion. 

Last June, then-Police Commission James O’Neil apologized publicly for the NYPD’s role in the violence at the Stonewall Inn, saying of those nights in June 1969, “The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple. The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize. I vow to the LGBTQ community that this would never happen in NYPD 2019.”

Well, it’s 2020, and today’s NYPD is repeating that brutal history by committing violence against LGBTQ community members. Eliel Cruz, AVP’s Director of Communications, captured some of the police violence in a video he then posted to Twitter. He witnessed police escalating violence and directly harming protestors.  Overnight, AVP received over fifteen reports of police violence at the march from LGBTQ New Yorkers.  This is unacceptable.  

As an organization that centers LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities, this is only the latest example of the ways we see first-hand the harms of increased policing, particularly on queer, trans, and non-binary people of color.  Over the last few weeks, we have been providing support to LGBTQ community members who have experienced violence at the hands of the NYPD. The people AVP serves includes: low-income (including homeless) individuals; transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) communities; undocumented immigrants including those seeking asylum; people of color; individuals who are incarcerated or entangled in the criminal legal system; sex workers; and those at the intersections of these identities.

If you have experienced or witnessed violence by police, please reach out to AVP’s 24/7 English-Spanish hotline at 212-714-1141 or report the violence online at avp.org/get-help.  AVP is here for you, anytime, anywhere.

AVP receives largest-ever gift to expand hotline!

Dear Supporter,

I’m proud to announce that the New York City Anti-Violence Project has received its largest-ever gift — $1.75 million from the #StartSmall initiative. This fund was created by Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square, in response to the global pandemic and economic downturn.

This gift comes at a time when funding was uncertain for AVP. I’m humbled that we will not only be able to continue our 40-year legacy making a profound difference in the lives of our community members – but that we will further build safety for LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence.

The convergence of the pandemic and the uprisings to end police violence and anti-Black racism in this country has exposed how LGBTQ people, particularly Black trans and queer people, and undocumented immigrants, are disproportionately subjected to violence and discrimination. It is more urgent than ever that our life-saving services and activism are accessible to everyone in our community.

AVP will expand our 24/7 Spanish/English crisis intervention hotline with text, chat, and increased call capacity.

This is both a time of great challenges and an opportunity for real change. I am asking you to join us on this journey to end violence. I am calling on you, as part of our community, to come together and collectively match $250,000 of this incredible gift. Our goal is to reach $2 million to support LGBTQ survivors of violence. Please consider a one-time or monthly donation today and invest in community-led solutions to violence.

NCAVP mourns the death of 32-year-old Rebecca Gavilanez Alectus in Brick Township, TX

TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic violence detailed in linked story

NCAVP mourns the death of Rebecca Gavilanez Alectus, a 32-year-old queer Black woman whose life was tragically lost to intimate partner violence in Brick Township, TX on May 17, 2020. According to local reports, Rebecca became the fatal victim of a violent assault after wife, Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus, 48, attacked her.

A friend shared with reporters, “Rebecca… told her coworker that she had feared for her safety in the days before her death after telling her wife she no longer wanted to stay in the relationship, authorities said.”

After being arrested in Houston, TX, Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus faces weapon and murder charges.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of 30-year-old Christopher Rodriguez in Harlem, NY

TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic violence detailed in linked story

NCAVP mourns the death of Christopher Rodriguez, a 30-year-old gay man whose life was tragically lost to violence in Harlem, New York on May 16, 2020. According to local reports, Christopher became the fatal victim of an assault on Mother’s Day, after a friend he took in to stay with him in his apartment, Aljo Mrkulic, 31, brutally attacked him.

Christopher was a Lehman College graduate who spent his time tending to and taking care of his family. Christopher’s mother, Jacqueline Perez says, “He was the center of our family.” She says, “He always went to parties to dance. He was always taking care of animals. He would even feed cats in the street.” We send our deepest condolences in light of this tragic loss.

Local police are continuing to investigate Aljo Mrkulic who was taken into custody following the attack. Christopher’s brother is crowdfunding funeral costs. You can donate to that fund here.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of 28-year-old Nina Pop in Sikeston, Missouri

NCAVP mourns the death of  Nina Pop, a 28-year-old Black transgender woman whose life was tragically lost to violence in Sikeston, Missouri on May 3, 2020. Currently under police investigation, Nina was found dead in her apartment with injuries from an apparent assault.

In local reports, Nina’s friend,  Emory McCauley mourns, “She was always happy and we try not to take that personally, but it hits home a little bit.” On her Facebook page, friends remember her, “everyone knew and loved you.”

Local police are continuing this investigation and seeking motive for potential hate crime charges.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of 21-year-old Puerto Rican, transgender woman, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, in Humacao, Puerto Rico

NCAVP mourns the death of 21-year-old Layla Pelaez Sánchez, whose life was tragically lost to violence in Humacao Puerto Rico on April 21, 2020. In a heinous act, Layla was found dead alongside Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32,  a fellow New York native and Puerto Rican transgender woman.

According to the NY Times, Luz Melendez, 29, Layla’s cousin, described her as “an easygoing young woman who had been raised by her grandmother and was just beginning to explore the world.” Her grandmother, Ms. Melendez, told the Times, “[Layla] didn’t have bad friends and she was never in the street. It caught us by surprise since she transitioned so easily and she didn’t ever have any issues.” We send our deepest condolences to Layla and Serena’s family and friends.

Two men have been arrested in connection with this act of violence and local police are continuing this investigation as a hate crime.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of 32-year-old Puerto Rican, transgender woman, Serena Angelique Velázquez, in Humacao, Puerto Rico

NCAVP mourns the death of 32-year-old Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, whose life was tragically lost to violence in Puerto Rico on April 21, 2020. In a heinous act, Sánchez, was found dead alongside Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, a fellow New York native and Puerto Rican transgender woman.

According to reports, Serena was visiting Puerto Rico on vacation from her home in Queens, New York. In many online tributes, she is remembered fondly as a “happy person” and a “sincere friend.” An alumni of Universidad del Turabo, Serena maintained a YouTube channel teaching her audience about her personal spiritual practices. We send our deepest condolences to Serena and Layla’s family and friends.

Two men have been arrested in connection with this act of violence and local police are continuing this investigation as a hate crime.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Johanna Metzger, Baltimore, MD

NCAVP mourns the death of Johanna Metzger, whose life was tragically lost in Baltimore, MD on April 14, 2020, after a stabbing on April 11, 2020. According to local media reports, her mother reported that Johanna was a self-taught musician of multiple instruments and a college graduate.

Ahead of Tuesday’s virtual vigil held in Johanna’s honor, the Baltimore Safe Haven, a LQBTQ Center in Baltimore, released a statement, “The trans community LQBTQ nonconforming community matters and [the local government] needs to step up and address this throughout the city.” We send our deepest condolences to Johanna’s mother, family, and friends.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of 32-year-old Penélope Díaz Ramírez in Puerto Rico

NCAVP mourns the death of 32-year-old, Puerto Rican transgender woman Penélope Díaz Ramírez, whose life was tragically lost to violence at the Bayamon correctional in Puerto Rico on April 13, 2020. Few details have been released about Penelope’s life and death. According to reports, Julio Serrano of the Coalition for the Search for Equity, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ group states,  “The police have the obligation to disclose the status of the investigations of at least eight murders [in Puerto Rico], one death without a determined cause, and several attacks in which LGBTTIQ people have been injured since January 2019.”

As investigations continue, we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Letter to Gov. Cuomo and NYS: IPV Orgs Against Rollbacks

Dear Governor Cuomo and New York State Legislature,

As organizations that serve hundreds of thousands of survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence (IPV) in New York State, through counseling, support and legal services, and advocacy, we join the growing call of voices opposing rollbacks on bail reform. Contrary to the arguments of those who invoke intimate partner violence to push back against bail reform, rollbacks will not make survivors of violence safer. In fact, rollbacks will harm marginalized survivors of violence.

We are concerned that during this time of the COVID-19 crisis, some New York State elected officials are attempting to push through rollbacks when our communities really need support and resources. This is especially concerning as we know that during such crises, IPV incidents often increase. And yet, while the criminal legal system is often invoked as an ‘answer’ to dealing with IPV, for marginalized Black, latinx, immigrant, low-income and/or LGBTQ survivors, their status as survivors makes them more likely to become entangled in the criminal justice system.

This is because mandatory arrest laws and poor primary-aggressor assessments by law enforcement mean that survivors are often arrested instead of – or in addition to – the person engaging in abuse. A national study showed that a fourth of survivors are arrested or threatened with arrest during an IPV incident or report. In New York City, the majority (66%) of IPV survivors who were arrested alongside or instead of their abusive partner were Black or latinx.

Black, latinx, immigrant, low-income, and/or LGBTQ survivors of IPV are also more likely to have had encounters with the criminal legal system before, during, and after surviving violence. According to a study by the Department of Justice, 77 percent of those incarcerated in women’s jails were victims of IPV. As there are no “perfect survivors” of violence, low-income Black, latinx, immigrant, and/or LGBTQ survivors of IPV include people with prior arrests and records, people with unstable immigration status, people who work in illicit street economies for survival, including sex work and those who sell and/or use substances. These survivors deserve support and resources, not criminalization and incarceration, which rollbacks only exacerbate.

Bail rollbacks will harm marginalized IPV survivors. We ask that you reject rollbacks on bail reform, and work with us to find more ways to invest in measures that will actually help survivors of intimate partner violence live in safety and dignity. This includes increasing the State’s social safety net by investing in safety planning resources, emergency shelter, long-term housing and services for trans and gender non-conforming people, expanding protections and resources for non-citizens, passing laws like Good Cause Eviction and Home Stability Support, and repealing discriminatory policies like the ”Walking While Trans” loitering law. It means pushing to cancel rent and utilities and other financial burdens on low-income Black, latinx, immigrant, and/or LGBTQ people of color that exacerbate power dynamics in IPV situations.

These are the kinds of social safety net resources and services that survivors of IPV need, especially during a crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak. New York State Legislators, we urge you to stand alongside survivors of intimate partner violence and anti-IPV advocates and push against rollbacks to bail reform.

Signed,

The New York City Anti-Violence Project
Women’s Community Justice Association
STEPS to End Family Violence – a Program of Rising Ground
BlackLine
Black Lives Matter Hudson Valley
New Hour for Women & Children —LI
Girls for Gender Equity, Inc. (GGE)