Photo: NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images

Nearly 50 years after the Stonewall Riots — credited with galvanizing the modern gay rights movement — New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill offered a long-awaited apology for the "discriminatory and oppressive" actions of the city's police force.

Why it matters: LGBTQ activists and officials have been asking the NYPD to formally apologize, but previously had no luck, per the New York Times. In the past, O'Neill said the matter had been addressed with no reason to discuss it further.

History lesson: It was common for the inspector general to target LGBTQ venues, including bars, under the guise of investigating their liquor licenses. That was the justification police gave for raiding Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. Patrons were asked to line up outside, present IDs and some were even asked to submit to an anatomical inspection. People taunted the police, which elicited a violent reaction. Riots lasted for 6 days with thousands of people in the streets.

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