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2003-06-27

Remembering Stonewall

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A look back on that June night in 1969 when the NYPD raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village leading to the Stonewall Rebellion and a new movement.

On this night back in 1969...

It was the height of the civil rights era. For more than a decade, blacks and other oppressed groups had been openly standing up to, and fighting against, their oppressors. But gay people around the country were still quietly putting up with police raids on gay venues, harassment, and discrimination.

All of this changed one night in June, 1969, when New York City police officers raided a gay bar called Stonewall. Historian Lillian Faderman describes the scene: 200 working-class patrons of the bar, including drag queens, third world gay men, and a handful of butch lesbians, started to riot. Their numbers doubled and soon, according to some sources, increased tenfold. The riots continued the following night. Fires were started all over the neighborhood. The first gay riots in U.S. history became known as the Stonewall Rebellion. It was the birth of a movement. The New York Times relegated the story to five inches on page 33. It was headlined: ï¿1/2Four Policemen Hurt in Village Raid.ï¿1/2

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