Deputy Police Inspector Seymore Pine who lead the New York City Police on the raid of the Stonewall Inn in 1969, the act that helped start the gay liberation movement, has died at the age of 91 at an assisted-living center in Whippany, N.J.
Pine, who later apologized for his role in the raid, was commander of the New York Police Department’s vice squad for Lower Manhattan when he led eight officers into the Stonewall Inn, just after midnight on June 28, 1969. The club, on Christopher Street near Seventh Avenue South, was owned by members of the Mafia. Inspector Pine later said he conducted the raid on orders from superiors.
In 2004, Pine spoke during a discussion of the Stonewall uprising at the New-York Historical Society. At the time of the raid, he said, the police “certainly were prejudiced” against gays, “but had no idea about what gay people were about.”
The department regularly raided gay clubs for two reasons, he said. First, he insisted, many clubs were controlled by organized crime; second, arresting gay people was a way for officers to improve their arrest numbers. “They were easy arrests,” he said. “They never gave you any trouble” — at least until that night. Someone in the audience said Inspector Pine should apologize for the raid, he did.
Pine has been later quoted as saying ‘If what I did helped gay people, then I’m glad.’