Several hundred people turned out for the third annual Trans Day of Action for Social and Economic Justice which wound its way through Midtown Manhattan and ended with an hour-long rally in Madison Square Park.
"We got the two main targets, Covenant House and ACS," Elizabeth Rivera, program coordinator for TransJustice, said of New York's largest provider of shelter for homeless youth and of the city Administration for Children's Service.
TransJustice is a unit of the Audre Lorde Project, a Fort Greene, Brooklyn-based community center for queers of color.
The group organized the June 22 march, which was endorsed by dozens of groups and had contingents from at least eight community groups including the Empire State Pride Agenda, the statewide gay lobbying group, the Ali Forney Center, which serves homeless queer youth, the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, and FIERCE!, or Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment, a queer youth group that advocates for its interests.
The annual Trans Day of Action is among those pride events that most closely resemble early queer liberation marches in look, sound, and spirit.
The crowd kept up regular chants for "justice" or "trans justice" during the two-hour march that began at Covenant House at 41st Street and 10th Avenue, where that non-profit agency's policies on queer youth were protested. The march traveled down Ninth Avenue to 28th Street, then east to First Avenue and 29th Street where ACS policies on transgendered clients were targeted, and finally to the park at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue. A roughly 10-piece band accompanied the march.
Marchers carried signs calling for justice or equality. Others read "Free the Jersey 4," a reference to four African-American lesbians who were sentenced to long prison terms on June 11 following their conviction in a 2006 assault in the West Village. The women claimed they had acted in self-defense when they were accosted by an aggressive and violent straight man, but the jury accepted the man's account that their attack on him was largely unprovoked.
As in prior years, organizers battled with police over a permit and the march route. This year TransJustice won a federal court order allowing the action. The group sought a police permit on May 18 but that was denied on June 18. David B. Rankin, the attorney who represented TransJustice, said police then fought the effort in court.
"They weren't negotiating at all," he said. "It was either their way or the highway."
On June 21, Judge William H. Pauley described the route the march would take.
"This has been read into the court record," Rankin said. "This is a court-ordered route."
At points along the route police set out orange cones that gave the march a lane on the street and they had posted no parking signs to keep cars from blocking the route. In other places, the march stayed on the sidewalk.
At 29th Street and Park Avenue, the march was briefly halted as police and marchers consulted a transcript of Pauley's remarks to determine if they should be on the street or the sidewalk. With marchers stretched across the avenue, traffic in both directions was stopped.