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LGBT Activist Arrested in Front of Kirsten Gillibrand's Chelsea Office

By DNAinfo Staff on October 18, 2010 11:20am

One of Bounville's peer activists, Iana DiBona, on the morning after their first overnight vigil last week.
One of Bounville's peer activists, Iana DiBona, on the morning after their first overnight vigil last week.
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DNAinfo/Tara Kyle

By Tara Kyle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — One the activists asking Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to cover sexual orientation and gender identity was arrested in front of her Chelsea office Friday night.

Alan Bounville, who began holding daily vigils on W. 26th St. on Sept. 27, was charged with a misdemeanor violation for obstructing the sidewalk, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

A member of the NYPD's homeless outreach unit arrested Bounville around 10:15 p.m. Oct. 15, after he saw Bounville lying in a sleeping bag on top of cardboard boxes on the sidewalk opposite 6 W. 26th Street, according the complaint.

Bounville, who is a 33-year-old graduate student from Queens, is part of a group called Queer SOS!, which is pushing Gillibrand to file a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Last week, the group expanded their vigil on the street to 24 hours per day.

While Gillibrand has expressed support in the past for amending the Civil Rights Act to cover LGBT persons, telling the gay website Towleroad.com that the idea was "certainly worth fighting for," her office has repeatedly refused to comment on the Queer SOS! protest.

The idea of rushing such an amendment through is currently controversial even within LGBT communities, where many advocacy groups are focused on targeting more specific causes with broader congressional support, like marriage equality.

After being released Saturday night, Bounville returned to the W. 26th St. vigil and posted his response to the arrest on YouTube, according to Queer SOS!.

The next court date for Bounville is scheduled for Dec. 3.