Despite the fact that the Stonewall Riots happened a year earlier change did not happen overnight for the lesbian and gay community in NYC especially when it came to the NYPD. Yes, the gay community was bit more organized but the police continued to raid gay bars and clubs, nearly all of which continued to be mob-owned. At this time in history the community actually found itself fighting on two fronts:
- Against direct harassment by the police.
- From getting caught in the crossfire between organized crime and corrupt police officials.
Gay activist Randy Wicker described what happened at The Barn, an after-hours club in the early morning hours of July 18, 1970. in his column in GAY, the nation’s first weekly gay newspaper:
Barn Baloney Bared: New York Police raided the Barn Sunday, July 18th, issued summonses to nine employees and sent dozens of patrons scrambling out of the back rooms and into the streets. Management mafiosi reportedly took to the streets also shouting “gay power” and urging the patrons to return apparently hoping to provoke a confrontation a-la-Stonewall. The Police left shortly thereafter and most of the patrons re-entered the club. “These raids shouldn’t be conducted at all,” Marty Robinson, GAA (Gay Activists Alliance) Political Affairs Committee chairman, declared. “We don’t like these management people running around the street shouting ‘gay power’ to further their own ends. Gay people should not simply be pawns in a power struggle between the police and underworld elements. A conference with Police Commissioner Leary has been arranged to discuss this matter more fully. confrontation a-la-Stonewall. The Police left shortly
And they did meet exactly one month later.
Robinson led a delegation to meet with to discuss the problem of the mafia-owned bars as well as how the police treated gay people.
As GAY reported on August 17, 1970: Jim Owles, president of GAA, told Commissioner Leary that the homosexual community is achieving a new awareness of itself and its problems, partly as a result of its witnessing other minority group struggles and partly as a result of problem. with the police that the gay community continually faces. He charged that raids on after-hours gay bars were made at hours on weekend nights, with police by their mere presence intimidating scores of patrons. “They hang around, they check I.D .’s at random. they indulge in verbal abuse, they station one man at the door and a patrol car out front for several minutes.