AVP’s Cops Out of Pride + Pride Safety FAQs

Click each question below to learn more about AVP’s vision for community safety at Pride.


AVP’s Vision for Community Safety at Pride

This year, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is excited to launch Cops Out of Pride, our campaign to remove the presence of the NYPD from Pride celebrations in New York City. AVP works to end all forms of violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people, including police violence. Forty years ago, AVP was founded because members of our community were being attacked, and when they went to the police, they experienced indifference and more violence. AVP’s founders knew we had to build safety together on our own. Our Cops Out Pride campaign represents a piece of our work to support LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence who seek care outside of policing. We believe that our LGBTQ and HIV-affected community members can work together to build safety, and we know that policing and criminalization do not keep our community safe. We aim to start by advocating that resources be shifted away from the NYPD and towards community-based solutions.

The NYPD has a long history of harassing, arresting, and being violent toward members of the LGBTQ and HIV-affected community. Though anti-LGBTQ violence can and does happen at the individual and interpersonal level, police violence is systemic– perpetuated by an institution that holds power. The police’s violence and targeting have particularly harmed LGBTQ people in Black communities, indigenous communities, and undocumented immigrant communities, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people. During Pride month in 2019 and 2020, AVP’s hotline saw a spike in reports of police violence against LGBTQ people. Reports of police violence in June 2020 represented 24% of police violence incidents for the year. A study recently released by the Williams Institute found that LGBQ people are six times more likely to be stopped by the police in a public place than are non-LGBQ people.

AVP has learned a lot in our forty years of supporting LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors in healing, safety-planning, and building power to prevent violence. In our early years, we pushed for the NYPD to be more involved by responding to and actively prosecuting acts of violence against community members. Additionally, we have been active members of the Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) coalition. However, in all that time, despite our best efforts, the NYPD has persisted as a source of violence and harassment for LGBTQ and HIV-affected people.

In 2019, during the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, then-Police Commissioner, James O’Neil, publicly apologized for the NYPD’s role in the violence on that day in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, stating, “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.” However, in June 2020, protesters marching in the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives were attacked by police and pushed, beaten, and pepper-sprayed toward the end of the march in Washington Square Park.

This year, as we kick off our Cops Out of Pride campaign, we are starting to raise awareness of these issues and engaging in difficult conversations within our LGBTQ communities. AVP believes that the police should be removed from Pride so that our community can make new ways forward toward safety. We know LGBTQ and HIV-affected people do not have unified opinions about this issue. We are looking forward to the process of engaging with our community, learning together, and working together so that LGBTQ people do not experience this violence. To this end, we are putting forth our vision for how we can make Pride safe for everyone without a police presence and challenge Heritage of Pride (HOP, the organization that produces NYC Pride), the Mayor, and City Council to work with our community to take the following steps:

  1. Remove NYPD presence at the in-person Pride Parade and remove the NYPD from all digital and print Pride materials and celebrations. The NYPD should not be the city agency tasked with traffic control and permitting for Pride events. Furthermore, NYPD should not be celebrated at Pride. Pride events should not be a recruiting space for the NYPD or other carceral agencies. The city can, and should, move the permit process from the NYPD to a non-police agency like the Department of Transportation. The city should invest in a non-police, unarmed, well-trained, and prepared community safety team based on peer-support models. Substituting private security for the NYPD does not reduce the harms of interactions with law enforcement. Private security firms often hire former or off-duty police officers and are even less accountable to communities than police forces.
  2. Divest from NYPD as first responders. The City should ensure that NYPD are not the first responders at Pride or in the community when there is a mental or physical health emergency. As an organization that is a leading member of the NYC Against Hate coalition and a long-time member of Communities United for Police Reform, we advocate for safety models that are not reliant on law enforcement or incarceration, but rooted in solutions that center community. The Dyke March, Drag March, Folsom Street East, and more have rejected police involvement and have worked with community members as marshals for the entirety of their histories, while the Audre Lorde Project’s Safe Outside the System project creates community safety. These are models that could be scaled up for HOP’s Pride March.
  3. #DefundNYPD and reinvest in resources that create safety. AVP, alongside 200 other organizations that make up Communities United for Police Reform, pushes for police transparency and accountability through community education and legislation. We also specifically call the City to #DefundVICE as a part of this larger goal of police divestment. The City must reinvest that funding in the programs and services that community members consistently tell us they need to be safe, such as health care, housing, education, and workforce development programs that affirm LGBTQ and HIV-affected people’s sexuality and gender identities.
  4. Shift resources, funding, and support to Black and LGBTQ-led community-based organizations and groups that provide alternatives for safety. Black and LGBTQ activists, individuals, community-based organizations, and groups have been providing and maintaining safety for their communities outside of the police for many decades. As hate violence and police violence escalate, exacerbated by the pandemic, these groups are crucial in providing crisis support and resisting state violence, including police violence. These groups need to be funded and supported to sustain their work. HOP committed to distributing 30% of its Pride Gives Back program to trans and nonbinary-owned, Womxn-owned, and BIPOC nonprofits and initiatives for the next 5 five years. We believe that HOP should distribute 70% of its program to these groups instead.

AVP is here to support you in exploring and learning options for your safety by creating a safety plan. If you need help, call our 24/7 English/Spanish hotline at 212-714-1141 or click here. If you are a member of our community and want to engage in conversations with AVP staff and community members about this campaign, you can also email us at community@avp.org.

AVP SELECTED AS LGBTQ ANCHOR IN “PARTNERS AGAINST THE HATE” INITIATIVE

Contact: Audacia Ray, New York City Anti-Violence Project, aray@avp.org

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is proud to be the LGBTQ anchor organization in the new Partners Against The Hate (P.A.T.H. FORWARD) initiative to prevent hate violence against vulnerable communities in New York City. In a year marked by increased hate violence, especially against LGBTQ people of color, the investment in AVP and other community based organizations working to prevent hate violence is a significant step toward creating community safety, instead of criminalization.

The P.A.T.H. Forward funding initiative is an important step in providing communities’ more resources to prevent and respond to violence without relying on policing and prosecution, which many survivors of violence are unable to access. Beverly Tillery, AVP’s Executive Director, shares “This is a crucial time for our LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities. At AVP we have been responding to hate violence for over 40 years. We know that the best way forward is for communities to be resourced to run community-based solutions that support survivors in building safety outside of criminal legal system responses.”

With this funding, AVP will be able to deepen our rapid incident response to support communities and survivors, continue community-based data collection and reporting through our hotline, offer bystander intervention training, and provide additional survivor services and support in the aftermath of violence. The funds will also enable us to resource LGBTQ partner organizations and expand our collaborations with them.

AVP continues to advocate for resources to build safety for our communities, which must be accomplished by shifting funding away from policing, prosecution, and jails and toward community based organizations, housing, health care, education, and food security. In 2019, AVP successfully advocated for the creation of the Hate Crimes Prevention Initiative which allocated $1.1 million of funding for community-based organizations doing hate violence prevention work citywide and across many communities, but was cut completely in 2020 due to the City’s austerity budget cuts.

AVP is the largest LGBTQ-specific anti-violence organization in the country, operates a free and confidential 24/7 bilingual hotline to support survivors of violence, and is one of the founding organizations of the NYC Against Hate Coalition, along with the Arab American Association of NY, which is also an anchor organization receiving funds from this initiative.

AVP appreciates the work of the Mayor’s Office of Hate Crimes Prevention to advocate for and direct funding to innovative, community-based, survivor-centered responses to hate violence.

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NCAVP mourns the death of Natalia Smüt, a 24-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman in San Jose, CA

NCAVP mourns the death of Natalia Smüt, a 24-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman who was murdered by her partner on April 23 in San Jose, CA. Shortly after harming Natalia, boyfriend Elijah Cruz Segura contacted the police for help, where he confessed to injuring her. Despite attention from paramedics and firemen on scene, Natalia died shortly after being transported to the hospital.

Natalia was a drag performer and artist of Puerto Rican descent. Her Instagram indicates that she was also a rapper, and belonged to the Haus of Smut. Several loved ones are commenting on recent posts by Natalia, mourning her loss. They write “you deserved so much more,” and “We’re gonna make sure you get justice.” One friend, Kaira Ohlde, has organized a GoFundMe on Natalia’s behalf, to raise money for funeral services and her family – specifically her older sister Vanessa Singh. On Twitter, someone named Cindy Campbell has posted a thread honoring  Natalia’s life – her work as a “fire cracker” performer, how she put Cindy in drag for the first time, and ultimately mourning that Natalia was “taken too soon.” 

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown 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 bilingual 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 Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, a 43-year-old transgender woman in Boston, MA

NCAVP mourns the death of Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, a legendary transgender activist and ballroom performer, who was murdered on May 2nd in Boston, MA. 

A member of the House of Balenciaga, Jahaira was known for her success in walking in the category of realness in the late 90’s, as well as for her work in advocating for survivors of domestic abuse. On Facebook, Robert Harold Dinkins writes: “The House of Balenciaga regretfully acknowledges the death/murder of our own Jahaira M. DeAlto, a community advocate and friend to many. Let us not forget her ongoing work against domestic abuse and continue to uplift her name and ensure her memory lives on in this ironic twist of fate.” Several community members have taken to social media to revere Jahaira, including trans actress and recording artist Trace Lysette: “Rest in power sister Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga 💔  she was the kindest sister, mother, aunty, friend. A ballroom legend. And we want justice.”

An activist since 1995, Jahaira’s work has brought her to the Ryan White Conference on HIV/AIDS at Harvard University, Columbia University’s School of Social Work, and the Berkshire’s first-ever Trans Day of Remembrance event, where she was the emcee and a featured speaker. She graduated from Berkshire Community College in 2019 for Human Services. She was also a successful vlogger on YouTube, where she had over 2,400 subscribers.

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 Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx twospirited transgender woman in Houston, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx twospirited transgender woman who was fatally shot on April 23 in Houston, Texas. The suspect attacked Iris outside of a Chick-Fil-A and fled, both his whereabouts and whether the shooting was an act of hate violence remain unknown.

Iris worked as a tarot/oracle reader, and used her Instagram as a platform for bookings, as well as to share what mattered to her with her followers, including commemorating the guilty verdict surrounding the George Floyd case, stats on reduced likelihood of trans suicide for kids whose pronouons are respected, and a graphic that simply states: Sex Work is Work. Iris’ mother, Maria Carreon, told local news station ABC13 “She was a beautiful soul. She was a wonderful person. She [was] always trying to help people, and even when she doesn’t have nothing, she always gives.” Her sister, Louvier, added “We just hope that no one has to go through this again, because it’s awful.” Louvier has also set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for funeral expenses.

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 Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman in Brooklyn, NY

NCAVP mourns the death of Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman who was fatally shot by her ex-girlfriend on April 21st in Brooklyn, NY. After the attack, which occurred just outside a Park Slope deli, Nichelle was quickly rushed to the hospital by authorities, where she was later pronounced dead. 

The attacker, Latisha Bell, was in a tumultuous relationship with Nichelle for “two decades.” They had been broken up for a few years, and those close to Nichelle report that Latisha had recently reentered her life before the shooting. Latisha turned herself in to the police and confessed to the killing merely hours after it happened – she is now facing charges of murder and weapon possession. In a court hearing, Brooklyn DA Wilfredo Cotto detailed the abusive and volatile nature of Nichelle and Latisha’s relationship, citing 13 domestic incident reports – 10 of which Latisha was the aggressor. Neighbors report that when the couple lived together, they’d fight often, ““Furniture was broken, pictures were broken … “they had disputes and fights on the regular, they did.”

A mother of two children, those who knew Nichelle are mourning her death online. An active member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Rev. Anthony Trufant told NY Daily News, ““She was very, very active, very prominent and much beloved … She is someone who had an open heart and a listening ear and an open mind. She just exuded joy.” On Facebook, a churchgoer wrote: “My heart is truly broken this morning … R.I.P Nichelle Thomas. My Emmanuel Baptist Church sister. I will never understand the heart of cowardice killers. Temples of praise dance ministry wont be the same without you. #Devastated.”

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown 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 bilingual 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.

The Work Continues: Demands for NYC Mayor and NYPD

Trigger Warning: mentions of fatal police violence

Many of us breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday when Derek Chauvin was convicted of all charges for the killing of Goerge Floyd. For some of us, the verdict comes with the hope that perhaps this signals a move forward in our collective work to hold law enforcement accountable for the deadly violence they perpetrate against Black and brown people. But even with our relief, we know there is so much more work to do to fully address and end police violence.

Tuesday, a ProPublica article revealed that after an internal investigation, the NYPD found “no wrongdoing” in the killing of Kawaski Trawick, a 32-year-old queer Black man who was shot and killed by NYPD in his own home on April 14th, 2019. On that day, Kawaski had likely experienced a mental health crisis after being locked out of his apartment. Police arrived on the scene after Kawaski had already been assisted by firefighters, and had safely and quietly returned to his apartment, where he was cooking. Instead of realizing there was no longer a disturbance or threat, police officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis broke the chain to Kawaski’s front door, and after finding him at his stove with a knife, tased, then shot and killed Kawski–all within 112 seconds of their arrival on the scene. For two years, there has been no accountability for Kawaski’s shooting from the NYPD. Neither of the officers have been disciplined, and the Bronx District Attorney has refused to prosecute.

Even as we breathe a brief sigh of relief after the verdict in the murder of George Floyd, we continue demanding accountability for Kawaski Trawick and all of the other victims of deadly police violence in our city and across the country. As an organization that centers LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities and aims to end all forms of violence and as a member of Communities United for Police Reform, we stand with our partners and Kawaski’s family in calling on the Civilian Complaint Review Board to hold a disciplinary trial. We demand accountability from Mayor DeBlasio and the firing of the officers involved in Kawaski’s shooting. AVP and our partners will not stop on until we are all safe and free.

Celebrating the AVP Union

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is pleased to announce that on Thursday, April 8, AVP’s management voluntarily recognized a staff union.

Dear Community,

AVP’s non-management staff is now represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153. The management and board of AVP wholeheartedly support the union and are looking forward to partnering with all staff as we negotiate a union contract and continue to make AVP not only a leader in our work with and for survivors of violence but a premier non-profit workplace.

In the past few years, we have all seen unionization efforts and various other internal conflicts tear apart some of our sister organizations in the LGBTQ community and the larger social justice movement. We know that the times when our communities are under attack and suffering the most can also be the times when we turn our pain and frustration toward each other. We are clear that in this moment, we must stand together, united in our commitment to make AVP stronger than ever— for our clients and community members, as well as for our staff.

Even before our staff unionized, our management team and board were clear and communicated to staff that we would embrace a staff union if the staff chose to form one. We stand together in the belief that a staff union is not a threat but will play an important role in giving workers a more collective, proactive voice and role in our organization’s decision-making processes.

This last year has been tumultuous in more ways than we can describe. It has also been a catalyst for change. This is another opportunity for all of us at AVP to live out our core values and intention to create an anti-oppressive, survivor-centered workplace that serves and works with our clients and community members to build safety and equity.

As a former union member, union organizer, and avid labor supporter, I appreciate the effort it takes to organize a union, and I celebrate the staff’s commitment to each other, the communities we serve, and our organization. The management team, board, and I are fully committed to embracing and working with the union. We are proud to be part of a long history of non-profit organizations that have unionized and celebrate the role unions can continue to play in our movement.

In peace and solidarity,

Beverly Tillery

 

NCAVP mourns the death of Aidelen Evans, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman in Port Arthur, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Aidelen Evans, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman who was found dead in a canal in Port Arthur, TX on March 18th. Aidelen’s body was discovered by police, who are now performing a second autopsy by request of her family to determine the cause of death.

Very little is known about the circumstances that led to Aidelen’s passing, and police are asking folks who have information about where Aidelen was last seen or who she was with to contact the Port Arthur Police Department at 409-983-8600 or to contact Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas at 833-TIPS. Police have not yet ruled out hate violence as the cause of death, calling the situation “suspicious” but stating that revealing any more would be “detrimental”. Aidelen was originally from Beaumont, an area 20 miles away from where she was found, which also complicates the case according to police. 

Her family has been searching for answers since the discovery – “It’s hard, it’s really hard. And the only thing you can do is look to God and ask him,” said Aidelen’s grandfather Dexter Balka. Because of the investigation, family members have not been able to provide Aidelen with a proper burial. Aidelen’s grandmother told local news outlet 12 News Now: “This is heartbreaking, I don’t care what nobody has to say. Nobody should have this. Nobody — no parent should have to go through this.”

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown 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 bilingual 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.