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Read: President Barack Obama’s Historic Declaration Designating Stonewall Inn a National Monument

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President Obama Has Just Declared Stonewall a National Monument – the First Ever Dedicated to LGBT Civil Rights

President Barack Obama has honored the LGBT community and the nation by designating the Stonewall Inn a national monument dedicated to the LGBT community’s fight for civil rights. 

The White House released a video today honoring Stonewall, with President Obama narrating. 

President Obama’s top aide, Valerie Jarrett, posted this tweet:

And the National Park Service posted this welcome message:

Above, a photo of President Obama meeting in the Oval Office with Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Pride flag.

Here is the President’s historic declaration:

 

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Proclamation — Establishment of the Stonewall National Monument

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STONEWALL NATIONAL MONUMENT

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

 

Christopher Park, a historic community park located immediately across the street from the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City (City), is a place for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to assemble for marches and parades, expressions of grief and anger, and celebrations of victory and joy.  It played a key role in the events often referred to as the Stonewall Uprising or Rebellion, and has served as an important site for the LGBT community both before and after those events.

As one of the only public open spaces serving Greenwich Village west of 6th Avenue, Christopher Park has long been central to the life of the neighborhood and to its identity as an LGBT-friendly community.  The park was created after a large fire in 1835 devastated an overcrowded tenement on the site.  Neighborhood residents persuaded the City to condemn the approximately 0.12-acre triangle for public open space in 1837.  By the 1960s, Christopher Park had become a popular destination for LGBT youth, many of whom had run away from or been kicked out of their homes.  These youth and others who had been similarly oppressed felt they had little to lose when the community clashed with the police during the Stonewall Uprising.

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a riot broke out in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, at the time one of the City’s best known LGBT bars.  Over the course of the next several days, more demonstrations and riots occurred in the surrounding neighborhood including Christopher Park.  During these days, because of its strategic location across from the bar, Christopher Park served as a gathering place, refuge, and platform for the community to voice its demand for LGBT civil rights.  The Stonewall Uprising is considered by many to be the catalyst that launched the modern LGBT civil rights movement.  From this place and time, building on the work of many before, the Nation started the march — not yet finished — toward securing equality and respect for LGBT people.

Christopher Park and its environs have remained a key gathering place for the LGBT community.  For example, on June 26, 2015, within moments of the issuance of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, LGBT people headed to Christopher Park to celebrate the Court’s recognition of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  A few days later, Governor Cuomo continued that celebration by officiating at the marriage of two gay men directly outside the Stonewall Inn.  Within minutes of the recent news of the murders of 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida — one of the most deadly shootings in American history — LGBT people and their  supporters in New York headed again to Christopher Park to mourn, heal, and stand together in unity for the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.

Today, Christopher Park is surrounded by brick sidewalks and a nineteenth century wrought-iron fence with gated openings. Educational signs about the Stonewall Uprising are found near the large arched main entryway.  Divided into two halves, the western side of the park is open to the public on a daily basis and contains a small plaza lined with brick pavers and benches. George Segal’s sculpture, “Gay Liberation,” stands as a focal point of the plaza.  The sculpture was commissioned in 1979 on the tenth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and its installation in 1992 cemented Christopher Park’s role as a destination for those wishing to understand the significance of the Stonewall Uprising.  The eastern half of the park contains two structures erected in 1936:  a statue of Civil War General Philip Sheridan, and a memorial flagstaff and plaque honoring Colonel Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth, an officer with the New York Fire Zouaves during the Civil War.

Across the street from Christopher Park is the target of the June 28, 1969, police raid, the Stonewall Inn (51-53 Christopher Street), originally built in 1843 and 1846 as two separate two-story horse stables.  In 1930, the two buildings were combined into one commercial space with a new single exterior facade.  In 1934, the first-floor space opened as a restaurant called Bonnie’s Stonewall Inn, which served the neighborhood for over 30 years.  The restaurant closed in 1966, but was reopened in 1967 as an LGBT bar called the Stonewall Inn.

The streets and sidewalks in the neighborhood surrounding Christopher Park and the Stonewall Inn are an integral part of the neighborhood’s historic character and played a significant role in the Stonewall Uprising.  The narrow streets bend, wrap back on themselves, and otherwise create directional havoc.  In the early 1800s, the residents rejected the City’s attempts to enlarge the neighborhood streets and align them with the City’s grid plan, and the extension of Seventh Avenue South through the area in the early 1900s only added confusion.  During the Stonewall Uprising, this labyrinthine street pattern helped the LGBT demonstrators, who knew the neighborhood, to evade riot-control police, who were not from the local precinct.

Viewed from Christopher Park’s central location, this historic landscape — the park itself, the Stonewall Inn, the streets and sidewalks of the surrounding neighborhood — reveals the story of the Stonewall Uprising, a watershed moment for LGBT civil rights and a transformative event in the Nation’s civil rights movement on par with the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls and the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights in its role in energizing a broader community to demand equal rights.

Although the 1960s were a time of social and political change that brought greater freedom to many segments of society, these new-found freedoms did not extend to members of the LGBT community.  They faced increased oppression and criminal prosecution even for being physically intimate with consensual partners.  In New York City, LGBT people were frequently arrested for acts such as same-sex dancing and kissing and wearing clothes of the perceived opposite gender.  In some States, adults of the same sex caught having consensual sex in  their own home could receive sentences of up to life in prison or be confined to a mental institution, where they faced horrific procedures, such as shock therapy, castration, and lobotomies.  LGBT Americans lived their lives in secrecy for fear of losing their jobs, being evicted from their homes, or being arrested.  For LGBT people of color or living in poverty, life was especially challenging.

For over a century, Greenwich Village has attracted Americans of all kinds with an interest in political activism and nonconformity.  By the 1930s, Greenwich Village was home to a significant LGBT community.  Despite the aggressive anti-LGBT policies and practices that emerged in the City in the 1950s and 60s, a variety of bars, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, and private clubs catered to an LGBT clientele.  Many establishments lasted only a few months before police raided them and shut them down, a practice that intensified during mayoral election years such as 1969.

The police frequently raided LGBT bars for illegally selling alcoholic drinks to “homosexuals.”  LGBT bars operated by organized crime syndicates often paid off members of the police force and in return received tips about when raids were planned.  As part of a crackdown on LGBT bars in June 1969, the Public Morals squad of Manhattan’s First Police Division raided the Stonewall Inn on June 24, 1969, confiscated its liquor, and arrested its employees.  The Stonewall Inn reopened the next day.  Having made only minimal impact with this raid, the police decided to plan a surprise raid for the following Friday night or Saturday morning, when the bar would be crowded.

On June 28, 1969, undercover police officers raided the Stonewall Inn around 1:15 a.m., after one of them witnessed the illegal sale of alcohol.  Customers resisted the police by refusing to show identification or go into a bathroom so that a police officer could verify their sex.  As police officers began making arrests, the remaining customers gathered outside instead of dispersing as they had in the past.  They cheered when friends emerged from the bar under police escort, and they shouted “Gay Power!” and “We Want Freedom!”.  As word spread, the gathering grew in size and a riot ultimately ensued.  Around 3:00 a.m., the City’s riot-control force appeared, and started to push the crowd away from the Stonewall Inn.  But the crowd refused to disperse.  Groups of demonstrators retreated to nearby streets, only to cut back and regroup near the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park.  The riot finally abated about 4:30 a.m., but during the next week several more protests formed, and in some cases, led to new riots and confrontations with the police.

The Stonewall Uprising changed the Nation’s history.  After the Stonewall incident, the LGBT community across the Nation realized its power to join together and demand equality and respect.  Within days of the events, Stonewall seemed to galvanize LGBT communities across the country, bringing new supporters and inspiring LGBT activists to organize demonstrations to show support for LGBT rights in several cities.  One year later, the number of LGBT organizations in the country had grown from around 50 to at least 1,500, and Pride Marches were held in a number of large cities to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising.

The quest for LGBT equality after Stonewall evolved from protests and small gatherings into a nationwide movement. Lesbian women, gay men, bisexual and transgender people united to ensure equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Hard-fought civil rights victories in courtrooms and statehouses across the country set the stage for victories in the Supreme Court that would have seemed unthinkable to those who rose up in Greenwich Village in June 1969.  Today, communities, cities, and nations celebrate LGBT Pride Days and Months, and the number of Pride events approaches 1,000.  The New York City Police Department now has an LGBT Liaison Unit to build positive relations with the LGBT community, and provides the community with expert protection when threats are identified.  Most importantly, the Nation’s laws and jurisprudence increasingly reflect the equal treatment that the LGBT community deserves.  There is important distance yet to travel, but through political engagement and litigation, as well as individual acts of courage and acceptance, this movement has made tremendous progress toward securing equal rights and equal dignity.

WHEREAS, section 320301 of title 54, United States Code (known as the “Antiquities Act”), authorizes the President, in the President’s discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected;

WHEREAS, in 2000, the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) designated the Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and portions of the surrounding neighborhood as a National Historic Landmark for its association with the Stonewall Uprising, a momentous event that inspired a national LGBT civil rights movement;

WHEREAS, for the purpose of establishing a national monument to be administered by the National Park Service, the City of New York has donated to the Federal Government fee title to the approximately 0.12-acre Christopher Park;

WHEREAS, the designation of a national monument at the site of the Stonewall Uprising would elevate its message and story to the national stage and ensure that future generations would learn about this turning point that sparked changes in cultural attitudes and national policy towards LGBT people over the ensuing decades;

WHEREAS, it is in the public interest to preserve and protect Christopher Park and the historic objects associated with it in the Stonewall National Historic Landmark;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 320301 of title 54, United States Code, hereby proclaim the objects identified above that are situated upon lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be the Stonewall National Monument (monument) and, for the purpose of protecting those objects, reserve as a part thereof all lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government within the boundaries described on the accompanying map, which is attached to and forms a part of this proclamation.  The reserved Federal lands and interests in lands encompass approximately 0.12 acres.  The boundaries described on  the accompanying map are confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries described on the accompanying map are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry, location, selection, sale, or other disposition under the public land laws, from location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing.

The establishment of the monument is subject to valid existing rights.  If the Federal Government acquires any lands or interests in lands not owned or controlled by the Federal Government within the boundaries described on the accompanying map, such lands and interests in lands shall be reserved as a part of the monument, and objects identified above that are situated upon those lands and interests in lands shall be part of the monument, upon acquisition of ownership or control by the Federal Government.

The Secretary shall manage the monument through the National Park Service, pursuant to applicable legal authorities, consistent with the purposes and provisions of this proclamation.  The Secretary shall prepare a management plan, with full public involvement and in coordination with the City, within 3 years of the date of this proclamation.  The management plan shall ensure that the monument fulfills the following purposes for the benefit of present and future generations:  (1) to preserve and protect the objects of historic interest associated with the monument, and (2) to interpret the monument’s objects, resources, and values related to the LGBT civil rights movement.  The management plan shall, among other things, set forth the desired relationship of the monument to other related resources, programs, and organizations, both within and outside the National Park System.

The National Park Service is directed to use applicable authorities to seek to enter into agreements with others, and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in particular, to enhance public services and promote management efficiencies.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however, the monument shall be the dominant reservation.

Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of this monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

 

BARACK OBAMA 

 

Image by Valerie Jarrett via Twitter

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News

‘Big Whop’: Even Right-Wing Critics Are Slamming Elon Musk’s ‘Underwhelming’ Hunter Biden Twitter Escapade

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Right-wing Twitter users are weighing in to express their disapproval of the so-called bombshell “Twitter files” Elon Musk promised to deliver on Friday, December 2.

According to The Daily Beast, Musk was set to address Twitter’s decision to implement a policy that would restrict headlines and reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on the social media platform. However, the leak ended up being a failure for many right-wing experts.

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing radio host who previously served under the Trump administration, offered a critical response to Musk’s release after journalist Matt Taibbi shared a full Twitter thread about the findings.

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“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Gorka said, adding, “We know the Dems in DC collude with the Dems in Palo Alto [Califonia]. Big Whop.”

He went on to reiterate his arguments when grilled by his far-right followers who were convinced that Musk’s Twitter files were some kind of “smoking gun.”

Per the news outlet: “Responding to a user claiming the Twitter company emails were ‘a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,’ the radio host fired back: ‘Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.’”

Speaking to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine also disapproved of the release. “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she alleged. According to The Beast, Devine also claimed: “sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week.”

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She added, “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”

Free Beacon reporter Joe Simonson also echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. “Twitter files [are] underwhelming so far,” Simonson tweeted. “Just revealing what we already knew: Twitter was staffed by democrats who did the bidding of Democrats.”

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Image by Daniel Oberhaus (2018) via Flickr and a CC license

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'HELPING NORMALIZE A NAZI'

Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports

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Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.

“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”

WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.

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As did other Twitter users.

Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”

At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye WestNick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.

“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”

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Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.

SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”

“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.

Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”

Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

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In the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting last month at an gay nightclub’s drag show event that left five people dead, the anti-LGBTQ slur “groomer” and other anti-LGBTQ hate speech posts on Twitter skyrocketed, “peaking at 885% over their highest level before the shooting,” NBC News reports.

“Barely 24 hours after the Colorado Springs hate crime attack,” Salon reported last week, “Elon Musk’s new Twitter responded to the massacre by reinstating the account of James Lindsay, the right-wing activist responsible for popularizing the anti-LGBTQ slur ‘OK groomer,’ which over the last 10 months has been used to imply that demands for LGBTQ rights or representation are tantamount to child molestation. In August, Lindsay was banned from Twitter for using a variation on the term, which under Twitter’s old regime was prohibited as a form of hateful conduct. But by Monday night, not only was Lindsay back, but ‘OK groomer’ was trending on the platform under its new ownership.”

Slurs against gay men on Twitter have increased by a daily average of 58% in the weeks following Elon Musk taking the critically influential social media platform private, firing its board, and welcoming back thousands of previously-banned accounts, according to information from NBC News and The New York Times.

“Travis Brown, an independent software developer in Berlin who tracks Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project studying extremism,” NBC News reports, shared data “that showed a wide variety of far-right accounts had been reinstated since Musk’s announcement” of a so-called “general amnesty.”

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“In that time, Brown has logged an estimated 12,000 reversals of past bans, in a set that, while not a definitive list of reversals, provides a window into the types of users being welcomed back to the platform and leaving experts alarmed.”

In addition to “spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists,” NBC adds.

Musk’s general amnesty “has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”

The New York Times adds, “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.”

“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day,” The Times reports. “And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”

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Significantly, antisemite Kanye West‘s restored Twitter account was suspended Thursday night, hours after – but not because – the far right rapper told Alex Jones of his support for Adolf Hitler.

“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.” 

Musk apparently personally had West’s Twitter account suspended when the artist who goes by “Ye” posted an image of a Jewish six-pointed star embedded with a Nazi swastika. The account, at least for now, remains suspended.

The Times reporting, which includes information from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, calls the increase in hate speech on Musk’s Twitter “unprecedented.”

“Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy,” The Times reveals.

Musk himself set the stage. At the end of October he retweeted a false, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who had recently been bludgeoned in a “near death” attack in their San Francisco home, allegedly by a man who has promoted far right extremism. He later removed that retweet.

Just last week Bloomberg News reported Musk was “restoring a string of accounts previously suspended for harassing transgender people, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community as the country confronts the aftermath” of the Colorado Springs mass shooting. “Advocates say the shooting… highlights the potential real-world violence that can stem from rhetoric against the trans community. They noted that anti-trans abuse has been mounting on the platform since the shooting.”

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As Musk welcomes back thousands who were banned for various reasons, from hate speech to disinformation to spamming to attacks on minorities and more, NBC’s reporting makes clear that left wing activists are finding their accounts suspended for apparently no legitimate reason.

“Chad Loder is an independent journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers whose reporting on the Jan. 6 riot has been cited in Justice Department charging documents. Loder, who uses they/them pronouns, recently had their account suspended, briefly reinstated and then suspended again without a clear reason.”

For his part, Musk took to Twitter to refute reports hate speech has increased dramatically.

 

Image by The Royal Society/Debbie Rowe, Photographer via Wikimedia and a CC license

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