Artist and photographer Krys Fox was enjoying his July 4th alongside many of his queer friends and beach dwellers at Riis Park in Queens, New York, a long-known safe space for LGBT people, when he was surrounded by more than half a dozen police officers and arrested.
Fox had been photographing a friend at approximately 6:30 p.m. yesterday evening when the towel tied around his waist slipped off. He didn’t have anything on underneath. That’s when a gaggle of cops ran up to him, including at least three who were plain-clothed, and hoisted Fox into the air and carried him off to the police car where we was arrested and taken to jail. He was held for several hours. They didn’t allow him to put his clothes or towel back on before they paraded him through the beach horizontally for all to see.
“It was very quick and very scary,” Fox told me.
A bystander, Mariel Reyes, captured the whole scene on video. She described the incident as, “Absurd, excessive, fucking ridiculous.”
“It’s the worst moment of my life,” Fox said. “My biggest problem is that Riis is my safe space and I’ve been going there for almost a decade. I got married in 2011 almost exactly where I was arrested. I shoot there all summer long and was working on a photo project I was devoting to the Orlando victims.”
Fox has never been arrested before or had any run-ins with the law. “I’ve never even gotten a ticket,’ he said.
In a post-Orlando environment, the LGBT community has had understandably mixed feelings about the increased police presence. On the one hand, it feels like the first time the police are guarding safe havens like Stonewall from attackers who might want to harm us, but on the other, the presence of armed, uniformed officers creates a fear-filled atmosphere that reminds us of all the times law enforcement have abused and targeted queers.
It’s not clear why the police had such a large presence on the beach on July 4th, whether stoked by fears about terrorism on a national holiday or in efforts to protect LGBT people, the outcome of this fruitless act is neither noble nor justified. Arresting a gay man for little more than the slip of towel in the once place he has felt truly safe, seems an awful waste of our tax dollars.