Two charged after protesters target NYC council member’s apartment building

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Two women have been charged with criminal trespassing after protesters targeted the office and apartment building of openly gay New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher.

Mr Bottcher, whose district includes Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and the West Village, had attended a Drag Queen Story Hour over the weekend at Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in Manhattan. On Monday, angry protesters stormed the councilman’s office on West 30th and defaced it with graffiti, police said in an email to The Independent.

Two hours later, a group of protesters gathered about six blocks away at the apartment building where Mr Bottcher lives, with at least two gaining entry. Erica Sanchez, 44, of the Bronx, and D’Anna Morgan, 27, of Queens, were both arrested and charged and given desk appearance tickets, police said.

The council member shared video and pictures of homophobic graffiti on social media following the incident.

“Tonight the Drag Queen Story Hour protesters came to my apartment building and gained entry,” he wrote on Facebook. “My super called the cops and two of them were arrested for trespassing. I’m safe. I’m sorry my neighbors had to see filth these people wrote on the sidewalk. This is pure hate, unmasked. If they think this is going to intimidate us, they’re mistaken. This has only strengthened our resolve. We won’t be cowed.”

Mr Bottcher over the weekend had tweeted a photo of himself at the story hour, writing: “Reading encourages skills like language and literacy, plus cognitive development and social-emotional growth, too. Thank you to Drag Queen Story Hour for bringing your program to Chelsea!”

Mr Bottcher, in a statement to The Independent through his chief of staff, was defiant in the face of protests on his doorstep.

“The people who committed these acts are trying to intimidate us into silence, but it’s not going to work,” he said. “If anything, their tactics have backfired, because this has only strengthened our resolve. We will not waiver in our struggle against bigotry and hatred.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams condemned the protesters’ actions, calling the incident “completely outrageous” on Twitter.

“Erik, you stand up for our city every single day and these cowardly bigots have no place here,” the mayor tweeted. “Thank you to the NYPD for your quick work and sending the message that this hate will not go unchallenged.“