|Protest outside the Black Cat Tavern after it was raided on New Year's Day.|
On New Year’s Day in 1967, undercover officers arrested 14 patrons of the Black Cat tavern, one of a number of gay bars that lined Sunset Boulevard at the time. The bar attracted a largely working class clientele and was nestled among a number of businesses friendly to gay men and lesbians.
According to Tangents – a local gay newspaper – “The Black Cat was happy and hooping” before undercover police arrived and started beating patrons as they were ringing in the New Year: “There were colored balloons covering the ceiling … and three glittering Christmas trees” Moments later, “all hell broke loose.”
The clock hit twelve. Balloons tumbled from the ceiling. The Rhythm Queens belted out “Auld Lang Syne,” and for a moment there was time to grab a kiss. But not all the revelers were there for the same party. At five minutes after midnight, plainclothes policemen began swinging clubs and pool cues, dragging patrons out the door and into the street. They pulled the bartender over the bar, lacerating his face on broken glass. Two patrons ran across Sanborn and took cover in the crowd at New Faces, where Circus of Books now stands. Officers followed, breaking one bartender’s nose, leaving another with a ruptured spleen. Sixteen people were arrested that night—six of them charged with lewd conduct, also known as kissing.
See full story here.