In response to the recent incidents of anti-LGBT violence in downtown Manhattan and elsewhere in the city and region, the United for Christopher Street Coalition held a candlelight march and rally on Christopher Street, from the Hudson River end of the street to the Stonewall, on October 23, announcing on its flyer, “Stop the violence against gays, residents and workers in the West Village community.”
Scores of community members marched, chanting, “Stop the Violence. Enough is Enough,” wearing rainbow patches, and carrying lit candles, and signs that read “Stop the Violence.” Lt. Dan Choi, discharged from the armed forces under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and currently in the process of reenlisting, led the singing of “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine.”
At the rally in front of the iconic Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 rebellion that began the late 20th century Gay Liberation Movement, United for Christopher Street Coalition leader Robert Ziegler, owner of the bar Boots and Saddles, urged, “Stop the Hate,” which was answered with a chant of, “Stop the Violence,” and co-chair Philip Hilton declared, “For those of you who mean us harm, mean us ill, and want us to fail, your reign of terror has come to an end tonight,” which prompted a chant of, “It stops tonight!” Hilton also read a message of support from State Senator Eric Schneiderman, the Democratic candidate for New York State Attorney General.
Dan Choi’s speech centered around the themes “I am somebody;” “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around,” taken from the protest song; and “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” from the spiritual.
Entertainer Victoria Chase said, “We need to feel safe in our neighborhood and we need to hold the police accountable. This is our neighborhood and we need to take it back,” which brought chants of “Take it back” and “Predators, get out,” in response.