NEW YORK (PIX11) - Among the thousands of New Yorkers who take issue with the way the NYPD singles them out in their own neighborhood, the members of this demographic are certainly in the minority.
But Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender teens and young adults of color say their beloved West Village is not the safe haven it was in the past, and is now a hot spot for questionable or even illegal NYPD stop-and-frisk encounters.
“It’s kind of annoying. You know. We come here because it’s a safe place for, you know, people. You think this is the one place you can come from — whatever neighborhood you’re from — and be safe, and hang out with your friends. And lately it’s not,” said Bovell.
Tiffany Bovell is a 24-year-old transgender from Carnarsie, Brooklyn who says her visits to the Village are no accident.
Bovell claims neither are the frequent police stops she endures while hanging out here.
“The police are here to protect you, but they do more harassing than they do protecting,” said Bovell.
John Blasco is the lead organizer for Fierce, which stands for “Fabulous, Independent, Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment”.
“A lot of youth who go out into the streets have been kicked out of their homes, do not have access to school anymore, can’t get into a shelter because there’s not enough room in the shelter for them. But these are the same youth that are having encounters with NYPD officers,” said Blasco.
Blasco says his work on behalf of members of color within the LGBT community often brings him to these Manhattan streets, where education is their most useful resource.
“We go into high schools, we go into organizations, we go into the streets. And we pass out know your rights information. And really talk to people about what their rights are. And encourage them also to become now your rights trainers. Because it’s super important. If it’s the law, we should know what the law is,” said Blasco.