Several hundred protesters joined a trans rights march that kicked off with a rally outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on Thursday night, as ongoing vote counting in several states showed former Vice President Joe Biden on the cusp of an electoral college victory over President Donald Trump. [UPDATE, 6:45 a.m., November 6th] Police say 18 people were arrested.
In an Instagram post announcing the "We Choose Freedom" march, organizers declared that "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will not give me Freedom. No politician can help us win because there are no good politicians in a racist system. Come out tomorrow and let this city know Abolition is Liberation."
Activists who gathered around the Stonewall Inn just after 5 p.m. were met by a large police presence, including hundreds of armored NYPD bike cops.
As the march began to wind its way downtown, protesters chanted the familiar anti-police slogan "ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS."
Police made several arrests early in the march, including one of the organizers, Joel Rivera, who an hour earlier said in a speech that the trauma of being arrested is "magnified for the trans community." It was not immediately clear why Rivera was arrested.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was also participating in the march, and can be seen in the video below being shoved by the NYPD's armored bike unit as they attempted to clear the street.
Update 10:11 p.m.: Protester Drimir Ferguson, 29, said he came out because he believes the police are not being held accountable for their actions.
"They don’t like the fact that they need to take accountability for their actions -- killing unarmed people, that needs to stop. There’s no reason that we should be out here protesting for our lives. That makes no sense that people gotta tell you that my life matters," Ferguson, who is Black, said.
Ferguson also pointed to what he sees as a stark contrast between the NYPD's approach to protests by Black Lives Matter activists and protests involving Trump supporters.
"I went to a Trump protest and Trump supporters had that First Amendment right to hit the streets and profess their love for Trump, but the fact that they were protected by the NYPD shows that it’s night and day with us compared to Trump supporters," Ferguson said. "When it comes to us they come to attack us and cause destruction and that’s the problem within the NYPD."
As of 9 p.m., the march had coalesced in Union Square, where hundreds of police monitored a dwindling group of roughly 100 protesters from across 14th Street. A handful drifted into the street in defiance of warnings to stay on the sidewalk, and after roughly 45 minutes, officers charged the protesters, forcing them back toward the park and making more arrests.
Asked why police forced protesters back into the park, NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Carlos Nieves said, "Numerous commands were given for people to get back onto the sidewalk. They did not listen to those commands. They were pushed back."
As of 10 p.m., an NYPD spokesperson said 10 people had been arrested during the demonstration.
UPDATE, November 6th: The NYPD said on Friday morning that 18 people were arrested.