Police raids on gay bars and nightclubs were a regular event in cities across the United States. Commonly the police would record the identities of all those present, which would be subsequently published in the newspaper, then load up their police van with as many as it would hold. Kissing, holding hands, or even being in a gay bar at all was used as grounds for arrest on indecency charges at that time. The Stonewall raid on June 29, 1969 started out just like any other raid. Seven plainclothes policemen entered the bar along with one uniformed policeman, allegedly to investigate improprieties in the liquor license. They cleared the bar, whose clientele remained on the sidewalk and street outside. The situation took a dramatic turn for the worse, and the police began beating people who resisted with their nightsticks. The crowd started throwing rocks and bottles rather than coins. The police took refuge inside the Inn, which they trashed. This was the first time the homosexual community had resisted with such force. With this event, the gay rights movement was ignited.
“While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”
6/1/07 Senator Barack Obama