Stonewall Inn, site of 1969 riots, becomes National Monument

A neon sign shines in the window of the Stonewall Inn in New York, June 23, 2015. © Lucas Jackson
The Stonewall Inn is now a National Monument. A symbol of LGBT resistance to police abuse, the gay bar received the protected area status a day after the NYPD commissioner declined to apologize for the department's role in the 1969 Stonewall riots.

President Barack Obama announced the special recognition Friday, just four days before the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when an NYPD raid on the establishment incited violent uprisings. The timing is even closer to the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage as a civil right.

“The designation will create the first official National Park Service unit dedicated to telling the story of LGBT Americans,” a White House press release read.

That story continues for LGBT activists, who intensified efforts to raise awareness of hate against their community, following the June 12 Orlando massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub, which left 49 dead and 53 injured.

On Thursday, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton spoke at an LGBT center on the historical significance of the Stonewall riots, but refused to offer an apology on behalf of the department for its role.

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

Following the Orlando shooting, a vigil at Stonewall spontaneously turned into a march. When marchers reached Times Square, they were met by a horse-mounted NYPD officer and other police officers who, reportedly without declaring the unpermitted march unlawful, pushed demonstrators out of the street and made four arrests.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, defense attorney for three of those arrested, spoke to RT, calling the official actions “state violence” and equally blamed the “private violence” of the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen for reinforcing hate against LGBT Americans.

The National Monument recognition extends to Christopher Park, a small park across from Stonewall in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.