Every Thursday, a group of activists, headlined by Joel Rivera and Qween Jean, gather at the iconic Stonewall Inn, part of a series of protests under the rubric The Stonewall Protests, organized by “Black Queer and Black Trans Activists centered on the Acknowledgment of All Black Life.” On Thursday, September 24, just a day after Kentucky’s grand jury decision not to charge cops involved in Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting, The Stonewall Protests held a ballroom-themed protest called Liberation Extravaganza.
Before taking to the streets, Qween Jean addressed the news about Breonna’s case,
“They [the grand jury] did not bring justice to Breyonna Taylor, her family, our family. There was no justice! And for that, we are gonna get justice today.”
Joel Rivera explained that the reason for the Liberation Extravaganza theme was the arrest of 86 peaceful protesters in Times Square on Saturday, September 19:
“We witnessed that protesters are not even allowed to step onto the streets without being arrested and so we said, no matter what happens on Thursday, we are going to look our best. And we are going to walk into a battle looking our best, because that is a legacy of Black queer and Black trans people, the Black queer and Black trans people that were here on the same street fighting for liberation, fighting for Black Lives Matter before the movement was founded. We call this The Stonewall Protests, because The Stonewall Inn forgot that history. But we are here to remind them of the legacy of The Stonewall riots. It’s 2020, we are at The Stonewall Protests, fighting for the same thing our ancestors died for. So this is not a threat, it is a promise, if I am not allowed to march on this street today, there will be a Stonewall riot part two…”
The movement’s slogan is “Abolition is Liberation.” Joel explains,
“When we scream ‘No justice, no peace’ what do we mean? Because Breonna Taylor, the black life that really initiated the Black Lives Matter movement over this summer, got no justice. And I can’t sit here and say I’m surprised, because Black people do not get justice under this system. We can vote in November, but my problem will be the same in December. Because no matter who runs for office, no matter if you know who runs for office, no matter if you know that person is a great person, the system will destroy them. Because that’s what the system was made for – to destroy Black people. We need to be in these streets chanting ‘Abolition Now,’ because that is the only way I will get true liberation, that is the only way we will all get true liberation. Tear down the system and forge a new one that is for all people, not just white men…”