apparently Sylvia Rivera still scares the cops

Sylvia at New York City Hall, with the community she helped create, in an undated photo

"Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned" [Sylvia Rivera, 1995].

At the Sylvia Rivera Law Project's after-party following its fifth anniversary celebration and fundraising event Wednesday night, two members of the community were violently arrested and others were pepper sprayed by police without warning or cause.

I'm betting the cops were frightened.

The Project, named for the fierce and indomitable queer and trans rights pioneer, provides free legal services, advocacy and other support for low-income people of color who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex. For details on the incident and continuing updates, see the SLRP site.

When will the savagery stop? How long will we have to put up with this stupidity and this thuggery?

Especially in a city as dynamic and sophisticated as this one is, no one should have to fear assault and arrest by the police simply because of who she or he may be.

I don't expect most members of the NYPD to understand New York, since their ranks are drawn from a fairly-narrow pool of communities, each of which tends to fear the heterogeneity and eccentricities which are the lifeblood of this metropolis, and because increasingly neither officers nor their bosses even live inside the city they patrol and monitor.

Incidentally, in spite of what some people may think and say, including officials who should know better, the police are not supposed to "control" us or our "situations". The police are public servants, entrusted and paid to keep us safe, not to tell us what we may or may not do.

I cannot imagine why sad stories like this one, and especially the even more dramatic and deadly episodes of police violence which litter our recent history, would not be an incredible embarrassment to the force itself, to the politicians to whom its leaders must report, and ultimately to every New Yorker. Who is responsible for making the NYPD look so damn stupid? Do they want us to be like Los Angeles, a city with a police force better known for its ruthlessness than for its skills?

There's no way to assign the precise proportions of the blame various people share for the continuing shame of this Police Department, but our mayors, commissioners and chiefs, and at least one council member and speaker, would all have long rap sheets if we were to try for a real accounting.

But each time there's another incident of brutality I think about how little we actually pay the police we send into the streets. I'm not suggesting we reward incompetence, unnecessary violence or arbitrary enforcement more generously, but rather that we should generate greater competence, more appropriate physical restraint and responsible enforcement by attracting better people with better pay, and then training and educating them better. With as many billionaires as we harbor in these boroughs we can certainly afford a truly professional force, at every level.

Also, this isn't about throwing money at NYPD executives. It hasn't served the officers on the beat or the citizens who rely on them to have those who occupy the top desk jobs in the Department routinely negotiate the terms of their own compensation at the expense of rookies and the lower ranks.

It's probably unreasonable to hope that anything might change in the hottest real estate markets in the city, but can I at least dream that a pay scale proportionate to a demand for real professionalism (and appropriate to the extraordinary physical risks) might mean that most of our neighborhoods at least could be watched over by officers who actually live in those neighborhoods - and who wouldn't be parking their SUVs and Pickups on our sidewalks?

[some of the points made above originated with Barry in a conversation today; image from Miami Dade College]

Hi guys: You probably already know ENDA has been split in to two separate bills ( orientation protection for lesbigay people and gender identity protection for trans/gender variant people which is expected to fail on it's own) in a decision opposed by LGBT groups. Also many lesbigay people who are gender nonconforming are fired for their appearance and gender identity not their orientation so this decision not only divides our community it offers incomplete protection for all. I'm circulating this petition.
All of the Democratic presidential candidates have stated they would sign the trans inclusive version of ENDA which LGBT groups have pushed for years. This is a very sad moment I think.