NYPD says they’re investigating an officer who was photographed wearing a Trump lanyard while carrying out an inspection of El Tucanazo during a queer dance night in Jackson Heights on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Arrebato, the party collective which was started as a way to build a safety net for queer and transgender people of color, wrote that around seven police officers barged into El Tucanazo telling the organizers that they needed to do a “routine check-up on the bar’s licenses.” In addition to the complaint about the Trump lanyard, party attendees claimed that the officers became both verbally and physically hostile with the attendees.
Under NYPD patrol guidelines, on-duty officers are required to remain politically neutral. “As a result, the commander of the Vice Enforcement Division is reviewing the matter,” wrote an NYPD spokesperson.
The collective, along with state Senator Jessica Ramos, are saying that the Vice Squad’s behavior was “an act of intimidation.”
“This is yet another example of how the NYPD Vice Squad has terrorized our LGBTQIA+ community, especially in my district of Jackson Heights, Corona and East Elmhurst,” wrote Ramos in a statement.
The police say that the inspection was a result of El Tucanazo’s history. It has been the location of 48 calls to 911 over the past year and the target of an investigation into the sale of alcohol to a minor.
The bar is not new to the police radar. In 2016, its owner Raymundo DiaTucanazo expressed concerns that increased police presence would frighten away undocumented customers after former state Senator José Peralta pushed to crack down on illegal activities on that stretch of Roosevelt Avenue.
According to Arrebato’s statement, the sergeant in charge of the NYPD Vice Squad grabbed a masculine-identifying transgender team member by the arm who was attempting to de-escalate an interaction between the officer and a party attendee.
The police eventually left without making any arrests. The collective said in their statement that they will hold a conversation with the bar’s owner about accountability and will be looking for a new location for the party in the future.
“As a ‘sanctuary city’ in a country that has otherwise institutionalized hatred and ‘otherization,’ it’s a public safety concern when the NYPD, whose duty it is to protect us, actually incites fear among our communities,” Ramos wrote.