Grand Central Flash Mob

Images of the Queer SOS Flash Mob “DIE-IN” at Grand Central Station, which protested lack of LGBT equality and the anti-gay bullying that resulted in recent LGBT youth suicides

Ashley Wentworth explains the story behind the images:

“These photos are in chronological order, beginning at 5pm in the Grand Central Terminal. They tell the story of the police build-up before the protesters even arrived at the event, and document the handing out of plastic handcuffs as I heard the instructions being given to the NYPD by the captain.  Everyone, including the press and the National Legal Observers, was told to leave the staircase overhang—where tourists hang out and photograph the terminal— by 5:45pm.

Over the course of the week leading up to the event, Queer SOS, including Todd Fernandez, one of the leaders of the protest, negotiated with the NYPD and MTA police. The issue was that Grand Central Station falls under MTA authority and thus NYPD LGBT community liaisons had little wiggle room. On Thursday, Queer SOS was told they did have permission to hang a banner for a few minutes over the staircase during the protest. However, while I was documenting the cop build-up, I specifically heard the cops being told numerous times that if anyone unrolled a banner over the staircase or anywhere else, including holding it up, they were to be arrested immediately.

Allan Bounville, followed by Iana Di Borna, were arrested and charged with misdemeanors for unrolling and holding the large sign featured in the photos reading “End Homo / Transphobic Apartheid in America” during the protest . Photos of them being walked off in cuffs are included. Allan and Todd stood before the crowd, reading aloud the first and last names of LGBT youth who have died by suicide and murder resulting from homophobia—the protesters lying on the floor, arms crossed, then called back with the person’s first name.  Commuters were completely confused: Some looked angry and others stopped and took cell phone photos.  As the names were called, there was a auditory battle with the police bullhorn announcing that if people didn’t get off the floor, they would be arrested.  The protesters were completely peaceful and well-behaved despite all the police animosity and intimidation.

At the end of the slide show are some special photos that no other members of the press were there for—I waited to see if they released the arrested protesters or if they would be held by police. One hour after arrest, with the help of Yetta Kurland, the protesters were released—photos of Allan and Iana are included right as they were released, hugging and crying.

Full info about the organization behind this protest can be found by clicking here.”

-Ashley Wentworth

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