In the News

Pier Pressure

From left, Philip Murph, Vincent Pun, E Black, Keidra Archie and David Tobo, all around 20 years old, members of FIERCE, a gay youth advocacy group, came to Community Board 2’s Parks and Waterfront Committee meeting last week to voice concerns about policing in Hudson River Park and to protest calls for an earlier curfew on the Christopher St. Pier. Some of them supported eliminating the curfew entirely

Christopher St looks ahead


Unlike Lees, Mananzala is convinced the police are doing more than just their jobs. “We have seen a major rise in our documenting of police harassment,” said. Mananzala “It is so hard to walk around Christopher Street. The harassment they [teenagers] meet is intense.” Mananzala too wants Christopher Street to be developed, but wants to make sure everyone, from residents to people who hang out on the street are brought to the table. And from his perspective the talk of development has more to do with residents than teenagers.


“We want to be considered part of the community dialogue,” Mananzala said. ”Everybody has a right to hang out in public space.”

Gay youth complain of police harassment in Village


FIERCE!, the organization that advocates for the gay and transgender youth who frequent the Village waterfront, faced police officers from the Sixth Precinct at a raucous meeting sponsored by the Community Board 2 L.G.B.T. Committee.


The youth group distributed a synopsis of a report that said 66 percent of L.G.B.T. youth of color in their survey reported police targeting and profiling based on race and sexual orientation. FIERCE! also doubted the effectiveness of the C.C.R.B., noting that of the 18,474 complaints filed in 2004, only 8 percent resulted in disciplinary action.

FIERCE Resistance

FIERCE member Heather Horgan, 22, understands the problem firsthand. Leaving a gay bar to smoke a rolled cigarette one night, Horgan and her friend were approached by police who mistakenly thought the pair was smoking a joint. Horgan says she was detained for 30 minutes while police rifled through her things. Horgan also says police called her “bitch” and told to keep her mouth shut. “My story is one of the good ones—I didn’t get my ass kicked,” she said.

Pier Pressure

One of the most outspoken groups in opposition to the Christopher Street Pier curfew is FIERCE! (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment), a support group and outreach program for gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, two spirit, queer, and questioning youth of color in New York City. Founded in 2000, FIERCE! launched the Save Our Space campaign shortly thereafter. In a statement on their website,, the campaign is described as a movement to “counter the displacement and criminalization of LGBTSTQ youth of color and homeless youth at the Christopher Street Pier and in Manhattan’s West Village.” FIERCE! has made a documentary, Fenced OUT about their struggle to preserve the pier as a place for “homeless and low-income LGBTST youth of color to find each other and build a community.”

Young and out: anything but safe

The Christopher Street piers in the Vill where Sakia hung out have now been converted into a park. Rickke Mananzala, an organizer with Fierce, an organization of young queer activists of color in the Village, says the piers are under the enforcement of park police who are imposing earlier curfews, closing the pier's public bathrooms and arresting organizers who give out safe-sex materials. All of this drives the queer kids of color out of the area, says Mananzala. The sole drop-in center that once catered to these kids was shut down in the '90s and reopened in another part of the city.

Gay youth oppose police in Village

FIERCE! or Fabulous Independent and Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment, brought an estimated 300 people to a rally and protest in Sheridan Square Park across from the Stonewall Inn. Despite a cool rain a number of gay and transgender youth talked about their experiences in the neighborhood during a press conference. Many argued that they have been pushed out.