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What Happened at the Stonewall Riots? A Timeline of the 1969 Uprising

June 13, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

The June 1969 riots at New York City’s Stonewall Inn marked a raucous turning point in the fight for LGBT rights.

On a hot summer night in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar located in New York City’s Greenwich Village that served as a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community.

At the time, homosexual acts remained illegal in every state except Illinois, and bars and restaurants could get shut down for having gay employees or serving gay patrons. Most gay bars and clubs in New York at the time (including the Stonewall) were , the “hierarchy of resistance” in the riots began with the homeless or “street” kids, those young gay men who viewed the Stonewall as the only safe place in their lives.

View of a damaged jukebox and cigarette machine, along with a broken chair, inside the Stonewall Inn after riots over the weekend of June 27, 1969.

Two transgender women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, were said to have resisted arrest and thrown the first bottle at the cops, respectively. Although Johnson later said in a podcast interview with historian Eric Marcus that she had not arrived until the uprising was well underway.

The exact breakdown of who did what first remains unclear—in part because this was long before the smartphone era and there was minimal documentation of the night’s events.

Close to 4 a.m. June 28, 1969: Police retreat and barricade themselves inside Stonewall.

As the paddy wagon and squad cars left to drop the prisoners off at the nearby Sixth Precinct, the growing mob forced the original NYPD raiding party to retreat into the Stonewall itself and barricade themselves inside.

Some rioters used a parking meter as a battering ram to break through the door; others threw beer bottles, trash and other objects, or made impromptu firebombs with bottles, matches and lighter fluid.


Hand-painted text on a boarded-up window of the Stonewall Inn reading ‘We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village – Mattachine.’ The Mattachine Society was a early American gay rights organization.

Sirens announced the arrival of more police officers, as well as squadrons of the Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), the city’s riot police. As the helmeted officers marched in formation down Christopher Street, protesters outsmarted them by …read more

Source: HISTORY

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