Ferguson versus The Stonewall Riots

June, celebrated as Gay Pride Month, is designated as such in memory of the Stonewall Riots that occurred Late June 1969 in New York City. Since then, Pride has taken on many different aspects, however the date and timing of NYC Pride stem from the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

The Stonewall Riots are celebrated as an important event in the history of Gay Rights. The riots were a reaction to Police raids against gay people and venues. Basically, the citizenry were sick of police oppression. The riots were violent. There was looting.

Is Ferguson different? If so, how?
Should it be?

Nobody in Stonewall robbed a convenience store before the raid and antagonized the police.

Stonewall is memorable because it was the first time gays fought back against police oppression and violence. Whatever the fallout is from Ferguson is in terms of the overall Civil Rights struggle, it’s very, very far from the first of its kind.

Video of the robbery wasn’t released about a week after Michael Brown was killed, which is well after the disturbances started. And the Stonewall riots included a great deal of antagonism of the police. Other than that, spot-on.

Sadly true, but I guess what I’m getting at is the idea that the people of Ferguson are being dismissed as acting out of line, whereas the people of Stonewall are held up as heroes. Maybe its a matter of history. I wonder what the perception was of Greenwich Village at the time.

The Stonewall Riots began when a group of police officers, attempting to make a lawful arrest, were assaulted by a mob of about a hundred people. There is absolutely no way, given the arguments you have made about the police actions in Ferguson, for you to support what happened in Stonewall, while remaining even remotely intellectually consistent.

Not that I expect that to stop you.

If you think about it, the word “riot” was kind of a hint.

I think you definitely have to consider the difference in perception of an event fifty years later, and the perception of an event while it’s unfolding. Certainly, in '69, there was no shortage of people who thought the police should just move into the village in force and start cracking skulls until the faggots settled down. There were plenty of similar opinions about the protestors at Selma in '65.

I think you also need to consider the common prejudicial stereotypes of each group in shaping how that group reacted to these events. If you’ve grown up in a society that tends to view you as a dim-witted thug, the sight of a black man eloquently preaching non-violence in the face of sputtering bigots with dogs and fire houses is tremendously validating. If, on the other hand, you’ve grown up in a society that views you as shameful and weak, the sight of a drag queen jumping up and down on the hood of a police cruiser is similarly validating.

That makes a lot of sense. The stereotypes are different so the perception is different. Perhaps not fair, but I can see that being a reason.

The police were certainly in the right to act to suppress a riot and to enforce the law as it existed at the time.

In retrospect, we as a society have decided that practicing homosexuality or transvestism is not a criminal act. I sincerely expect that future generations will not be able to say the same about the acts of petty theft, of assaulting a police officer, arson, looting, or any of the other acts to which law enforcement in Missouri have responded.

And that also applies to stereotypes of groups involved. Our society increasingly sees gays as cute, kindly, suburban upper-middle class people who want to start families. That’s not exactly how our society sees black people.

Shucks, this makes me almost forget about the other stuff you posted. It’s like I can’t even read it anymore!


Can I call it, or can I call it?

Exactly this. The stone wall riots weren’t viewed in a favorable light until it became clear that they were the spark that ignited the gay rights movement. If over the coming years the riots in Ferguson result in a sea change in the treatment of Blacks by the police, I can imagine that 50 years from now the rioters would be also seen as heroes. But I suspect that the closer analogy will be the 1992 LA riots which are generally viewed in an unfavorable light.

Oh, what bullshit!

The police were raiding there because the Stonewall Inn was behind on their kickbacks to the police, and so they were out to make an example of them, and keep the other bar owners in line.

What ‘lawful arrest’ do you think the police were trying to make when a binch of them stormed that bar?

Well, serving liquor without a license, for one. I imagine more than a few violations of New York’s anti-sodomy laws, which weren’t repealed until 1980. Transvestism was still illegal as well, and IIRC, the same laws could be applied to women who looked too butch. A fair amount of prostitution, of course, to say nothing of the drug use. And the bar as a whole was mafia-owned to begin with, as were most of the gay bars in New York in those days, so probably some shady dealings that weren’t directly related to the gay scene. Also, as you pointed out, they were paying off the cops to look the other way, which is a crime in and of itself.

I agree entirely with you about the motivation of the cops for staging the raid. The police department at that time was hugely corrupt, and they were in it up to their necks with Stonewall and the other underground bars. I’m not arguing that the police action that night was just or fair. But it was legal - the people they were arresting that night were, by and large, in violation of one or more laws of the city and state of New York.

Also probably violations of some obscure deliberately vaguely worded morals statutes.

In the 1930s most of the gay bars in NYC wound up becoming taken over by members of the Mafia because certain morals laws were passed which effectively allowed the cops to shut down bars which even served gay men and this presented a racketereering opportunity.

Stonewall was especially popular among gays because it was the only bar or nightclub in Manhatten where gay men could dance with one another.

If you ever talk to gays who went there you’d be shocked at the crap they put up with from the mafia controlled management which regularly would do thing like buy high quality vodka and pour and then exchange for the worse rotgut imaginable in brand bottles.


This should be carved into a memorial somewhere. :cool:

Certainly an interesting possibility for a kinetic sculpture. And better than this