On June 24, President Barack Obama declared the Stonewall Inn a national monument.
The Stonewall Inn is a gay bar located in New York City that was home to the Stonewall Riots and the beginning of the gay pride movement.
On June 28, 1969, at around 1:20 a.m., what would have been just another police raid turned into history.
The Stonewall Inn. Photo by Doug Meszler/Corbis. (Image Source)
Police raids in gay bars had become common in 1969. The June 28 raid was reportedly an investigation of bootlegged liquor at the Stonewall Inn, but many of these raids had harassment as an ulterior motive.
Police officers would make arrests if they saw illegal activity during the raid, including gay individuals being served alcohol and dancing with one another. They would also check patron’s I.D.s and arrest individuals who did not have identification or were dressed in drag. Women who were not wearing at least three pieces of feminine clothing would also be arrested in addition to employees and management of the gay bars.
Patrons at the Stonewall Inn included gay men, lesbians, drag queens, transgender men and women and homeless teenagers. On the night of June 28, 1969 when the police raid occurred, the individuals at the Stonewall Inn said enough is enough.
The crowd of around 200 who were at the Stonewall Inn during the time of the riot refused to cooperate with police. Officers decided to bring all patrons to the police station, but had to wait for transportation. They let a few individuals leave the bar, but these people decided to stand outside and wait. This drew in a crowd that included about 150 people. This crowd continuously grew and as a police wagon pulled up to the bar, the riot began.
A lesbian being escorted from the bar by police resisted arrest and complained of the tight handcuffs. An officer hit her in the head with a police club and threw her into the wagon. The crowd reacted in outrage, throwing pennies, beer bottles and bricks at the wagon.
Several police officers fled back into the Stonewall Inn to protect themselves, but rioters retaliated. They threw bricks, garbage cans, rocks, and even a parking meter at the building and through the windows.
The Tactical Police Force of the New York City Police Department arrived shortly after to free the officers trapped inside the building and to arrest rioters. The riot ended around 4 a.m. with 13 people arrested and four injured officers, according to the Stonewall Inn’s website.
The riots continued in the days following and sparked national awareness. The LGBTQ+ community bonded together across the country to continue the work started by the Stonewall rioters. The gay pride movement had begun.
The Stonewall Inn continues to be a symbol and location of importance as events in the LGBTQ+ community occur.
When gay marriage was legalized in the United States last year, the Stonewall Inn was home to celebration.
And when the recent tragedy at Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida happened, the Stonewall Inn became a place to mourn.
Outside of the Stonewall Inn, a man lights a candle to memorialize the victims of the Pulse night club shootings. (AP) (Image Source)
Years after 1969, Pride is a time of year dedicated to celebrating and remembering the Stonewall Riots. This Sunday, NYC Pride will have their annual parade, which will march down Christopher Street in front of the newly declared landmark.
This monument “will consist of 7.7 acres, protecting the tavern, Christopher Park across the street, and several other streets and sidewalks where spontaneous protests were held for equal rights in 1969,” according to the New York Times.
This monument will also become the first American national monument memorializing the history of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The riots became protests, the riots became a movement, the movement ultimately became an integral part of America,” said President Obama in a video announcing the monument. “I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.”
Watch the video here. Happy Pride.
This article was originally published on The Sami Fisher Blog.
Published by Samantha Grace Fisher