NYPD Debuts New Rainbow-Colored Patrol Cars

June 24th 2016

Lucy Tiven

This week, the New York Police Department debuted a rainbow-colored patrol car in a show of support for the LGBT community following the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.

The patrol cars were introduced on Thursday, a few days before Sunday's LGBT Pride march.

Some found them to be an inspiring gesture, but others were quick to point out that the NYPD has not historically been an LGBT ally.

Also on Thursday — the day the Pride patrol car was announced — the Observer reported that NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton refused to apologize during a press conference for the department's raids of the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in Greenwich Village.

The raids inspired the 1969 Stonewall Riots, a transitional moment in the fight for gay rights in America.

“There’s no doubt denying that out of that terrible experience came so much good, that it was the tipping point,” Bratton said. “An apology, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s necessary. The apology is all that’s occurred since then.”

It is true that the riots ignited by the Stonewall raids inspired the LGBT rights movement that followed. But they also illustrated the NYPD's contentious, often violent relationship with the queer community — which does not strictly dwell in the distant past.

Mere weeks before Thursday's press conference, 31-year-old Louis Falcone, a gay man living in Staten Island, filed a federal lawsuit alleging that NYPD police violently beat him in June 2015 because of his sexual orientation, the New York Daily News reported.

In July 2015, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office civil rights bureau launched a hate crime investigation after 29-year-old Stephanie Dorceant alleged that an off-duty cop assaulted her and her ex-girlfriend, and referred to her using a homophobic slur. As of June 17, the charges remain pending, according to Curve Magazine.

"I no longer feel safe in New York," Dorceant told Gothamist in December. "I no longer feel safe in this country."

The NYPD's relationship with transgender people is particularly unsettling.

In 2012, Jezebel published a report on the NYPD's routine police brutality against transgender people in custody.

Though the department has instituted policy shifts in recent years, transgender people and advocates told The New York Times in 2015 that the pattern of abuse continued and was widely underreported.

A separate incident reported by a 51-year-old Black transgender man in August 2015 illustrates another way anti-trans discrimination can take shape. Marlow White, a father of four, alleged that the NYPD failed to act on violent threats from his neighbor due to his gender identity, the Advocate reported.

It is not wrong for the NYPD to show its support for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. But in doing so, it brings to mind the department's own legacy of violence and homophobia.

ATTN: has reached out to the NYPD for comment. We will update this story when we receive their response.