The city’s pride parade was supposed to take place on Sunday, but it was canceled by COVID-19. A group of activists known as Reclaim Pride organized a peaceful march to celebrate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, when officers raided the Stonewall Inn and violently attacked its LGTBQ patrons. The event and subsequent protests kicked off the LGTBQ rights movement of the '70s.
While the march and protests were moving along peacefully for most of the day on Sunday, police contend a group of people was vandalizing an NYPD vehicle stationed near Washington Square Park and officers moved in to apprehend the suspects. Videos of the arrest went viral, showing officers, some of whom weren’t wearing face coverings, rush the crowd of protesters, curse at them, shove some of them with batons and in some instances use pepper spray.
One video showed an officer use his baton to shove to the ground a protester who was on a bike.
Jake Tolan, one of the march's organizers, condemned the police for assaulting the peaceful protesters, especially on the day commemorating Stonewall.
“Fifty-one years after the Stonewall Rebellion, the NYPD is still responding to peaceful, powerful, righteous queer joy with pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs,” he said in a statement.
GLAAD also condemned the NYPD for the use of force during the anniversary in a tweet.
A spokesman for the NYPD said it arrested three individuals involved in the incident. One was charged with making graffiti, while the other two were hit with resisting arrests and assaulting an officer charges, according to the spokesman.
Last year, former Police Commissioner James O'Neill apologized for the NYPD's actions during the Stonewall riots.
ABC News' Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.