Tag Archives: Never Forget

Gay History- April 28, 1990: Bomb Explodes At Uncle Charlie’s in NYC, Years Later Found To Be Terrorist Attack by Radical Islamic Group

Thirty years ago today on April 28th, 1990 a homemade pipe-bomb exploded in a popular gay bar in the West Village of New York City which prompted a massive protest march on Manhattan’s Sixth Precinct station mobilized by the then newly formed Queen Nation and years later was found out to be one of the first terrorist bombings on U.S. soil by a radical Islamic group.

Uncle Charlie’s Downtown was located at 56 Greenwich Avenue and was a hugely popular gay video bar in the 1980’s and 1990’s,  packed nightly where gay men would gather to drink, watch video,  play pool and cruise.

In the early morning of April 28 at least 3 men were injured when a pipe bomb exploded at about 12:10 A.M.  Sergeant Tina S. Mohrmann described damage to the building as ”minor.” but at that time the NYPD also called it “unrelated” to a hate crime.

One patron at the nightspot, Frizzell Green, said he was standing at the bar when the blast went off in a trash can five to six feet from him, producing a cloud of smoke and sending debris in all directions.

After the NYPD basically dismissed the explosion the newly formed Queer Nation founded by by AIDS activists from ACT UP  mobilized over a 1000 protesters in a matter of hours. The group gathered outside Uncle Charlie’s at 9:30 P.M. then marched their way to the NYPD’s 6th Precinct, blocking traffic at times and chanting ”Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia has to go.”  As the march proceeded, many bystanders along the street and in sidewalk restaurants cheered and applauded and joined in

It wasn’t until 5 years later in 1995, just two years before Uncle Charlie’s Downtown would close its doors for good that it was discovered that that an extremist Muslim terrorist ring was actually responsible for making and planting the pipe bomb.

In the January 14, 1995 article “Man Accused In Terror Plot Bombed Gay Bar, U.S. Says by James C. McKinley Jr. from The New York Times the truth behind the bombing was revealed :

Federal prosecutors plan to present evidence that some of the 12 men charged in a terrorist conspiracy to blow up New York City landmarks were also responsible for a host of other crimes, including the 1990 bombing of a gay bar, international arms smuggling, drug trafficking and the attempted murder of Mikhail S. Gorbachev. In a letter from prosecutors to defense lawyers released yesterday, the prosecutors accuse El Sayyid A. Nosair, one of the alleged leaders of the terrorist ring, of bombing a Greenwich Village gay bar, Uncle Charlie’s, on April 28, 1990, injuring three people. Mr. Nosair, who like the other defendants is Muslim, attacked the bar because he objected to homosexuality on religious grounds, according to the letter.

Nosair was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his “war of urban terrorism”

Over three decades later the pipe-bombing of Uncle Charlie’s Downtown, was one of the first terrorist attacks on American soil by radical Islamic groups and is still overlooked by many mainstream historians.

Another in a long line of under-reported and missing pieces of our LGBT history.

Uncle Charlies all

Gay History - August 14, 1961: Police Raid The Tay-Bush Inn in S.F. The Largest Gay Bar Raid in S.F. History

Gay History – March 8, 1970: The Forgotten NYC Snake Pit Bar Raid. 167 Arrested, 1 Critically Wounded

March 8, 1970:

Many people don’t realize it but the raids on gay bars by the New York City Police Department didn’t end with the Stonewall riots in the summer of 1969. In fact the raids continued, virtually uninterrupted with some continuing on into the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

On March 8th. 1970 at about 5:00 am in the morning the NYPD raided the Snake Pit, an after-hours bar at 211 West 10th. Street in Greenwich Village. Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine (the same Seymour Pine in charge of the raids upon the Stonewall Inn) showed up with a fleet of police wagons, and arrested all 167 customers, staff, and owners and took them to the station house, which violated police policy.

One patron, Diego Vinales, panicked. An immigrant from Argentina who was in the country illegally, he feared what would happen to him in the police station and tried to escape by jumping out a second story window. He landed on a fence below, its 14-inch spikes piercing his leg and pelvis. He was not only critically wounded, but was also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. As paramedics attended to Vinales, a cop told a fireman, “You don’t have to hurry, he’s dead, and if he’s not, he’s not going to live long,”

“You don’t have to hurry, he’s dead, and if he’s not, he’s not going to live long.”

Viñales was eventually cut loose and taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. he survived after spending weeks in the hospital and when released moved back to Argentina.

The Gay Activist Alliance immediately organized a protest for later that night. A pamphlet publicizing the protest read, “Any way you look at it, Diego Vinales was pushed. We are all being pushed. A march on the Sixth Precinct will take place tonight, March 8, at 9 pm, gathering at Sheridan Square. Anyone who calls himself a human being, who has the guts to stand up to this horror, join us.” 

A silent vigil will occur immediately following the demonstration.” Nearly 500 people showed up for an angry and loud but peaceful protest protest to the precinct station on Charles Street, followed by a vigil at St. Vincent’s hospital where Vinales lay in critical condition.

Rep. Edward Koch, who would later become the Mayor of NYC accused NYPD Commissioner Howard Leary of green-lighting the resumption of raids, harassment, and illegal arrests against the gay community. Both Leary and Seymour Pine was reassigned to the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

The gay community, which had already witnessed a burst of organizing activity since the Stonewall uprising nine months earlier, became even more politically and socially active, setting the stage for the first Christopher Street Pride March 3 months later on the first anniversary of Stonewall Riots.

#LearnYourHistory  #NeverForget   

*WARNING:  Graphic image below.

23-year-old Argentinian immigrant, Diego Viñales, apparently got scared and jumped out the precinct window and was impaled on an iron fence.

Gay History – March 9, 1969: The Tragic Death of Howard Efland By The L.A.P.D. At The Dover Hotel

The Dover Hotel was a rundown five-story brick building located in downtown Los Angeles.  The hotel operated as an early version of the soon to become popular bathhouse scene.  Gay men checked in, removed their clothing, and laid on their beds with the doors ajar waiting for others to walk by in the hopes of meeting someone.

The Dover not surprisingly, was also the scene of a number of raids by the LAPD’s Vice Squad and was known to them as an easy bust for “faggots”.

During a raid by the Vice Squad on March 9th, 1969, just 4 months shy of the Stonewall riots in NYC, Howard Efland, a male nurse who checked into the hotel under the pseudonym of J. McCann.  By the end of that day Efland would be brutally beaten outside the hotel by police in front of numerous witnesses and would later die.

LA vice officers Lemuel Chauncey and Richard Halligan claimed that Efland groped them so they arrested him, dragged him naked, bleeding and screaming down a flight of stairs by his feet and into the street.  In front of several witnesses the two police officers who were well over 6’2 inches  started beating the slightly built, unarmed and and non-resisting gay man to death while he screamed  “Help me! My God, someone help me!” The two police officers kicked him repeatedly, did  knee drops onto his stomach, and savagely beat him.

While several witnesses claimed that Howard Efland died at the scene. Chauncy and Halligan stated that Elfland was alive as they “threw” the body into the back of the police wagon. The claimed that halfway down to the station from where they had arrested him that Efland  had kicked open the door and fell out onto the Hollywood Freeway.

The Admissions Officer who was on duty at County General Hospital testified at the Coroner’s inquest that when they received Efland, they tied him down to the bed and he was in bad shape. The Nurse testified that she went into the other room with the cop because the guy had bitten his finger. Forty minutes later while she’s still working on the cop (?) another nurse came and said ‘hey, the guy in the other room died.’

The L.A.P.D. first informed Efland’s parents that their son had merely died of a heart attack. Later the L.A. County Coroner ruled Elfland’s death an “excusable homicide” and the story was withheld from the mainstream media. However the once great gay newspaper the Advocate picked up the story and responded strongly by calling the L.A.P.D. “psychotics” 

The  Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church would lead 120 marchers in a rally to the the site of Dover to commemorate Efland’s fatal beating and murder.

“I had told my congregation over and over that our church was built on a three-prong gospel: the gospel of Christian salvation,  the gospel of Christian community and the gospel of Christian social action. Absolutely: Christian social action. We are meant to go out and bring deliverance to people. So I told them ‘I want you to come and march with me’. Perry said.

In the end no one was ever held accountable for the murder of Howard Efland.

After publishing this story in 2014 the nephew of  Howard Eflland contacted Back2Stonewall.com  Being very young when it happened he was never told the true nature of his Uncle’s death.

Back2Stonewall has attempted to call the L.A.P.D. numerous times in the hopes of  getting an apology for Howard Elfland’s surviving family.

There has never been an official response to any of them.

We continue to try.

#NeverForget.

Forgotten Gay Heroes: The Legacy of Gay AIDS Activist and “KS Poster Boy” Bobbi Campbell

On August 8, 1983 Bobbi Campbell, and his partner Bobby Hilliard, became the faces of the deadly plague called AIDS that was decimating the gay community with a cover story in Newsweek magazine.

For those who don’t remember or know Bobbi Campbell he was originally from Seattle, WA and became the first person living with AIDS to come out publicly after he became the 16th person to be diagnosed with it in San Francisco.

Bobbi became known as the “KS Poster Boy” appearing with his partner on the above cover of Newsweek on August 8, 1983 and wrote a column for the San Francisco Sentinel from January 1982 describing his experiences. Campbell, who was also a registered nurse, joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the time of the health crisis in early 1982; in his “sister” persona as Sister Florence Nightmare, he co-authored the first San Francisco safer-sex manual, “Play Fair!”, which was written in plain sex-positive language, offering practical advice and adding an element of humour.

In 1983, Campbell and Dan Turner, who had been diagnosed in February 1982, founded the People With AIDS Self-Empowerment Movement or PWA Movement that believes that those living with HIV/AIDS have the human rights to “take charge of their own life, illness, and care, and to minimize dependence on others”.

In January of 1984, when Dan White, the assassin of gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone was due to be paroled, Campbell and Hilliard stood outside Soledad State Prison. White was being transported to Los Angeles for fear of retributive attacks, Campbell stood in front of the media carrying a sign that read “Dan White’s homophobia is more deadly than AIDS,” bringing further national attention to the health crisis.

On July 15, 1984, Bobbi Campbell gave one of his last speeches at the National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco (see video below). Campbell told the crowd that he had hugged his boyfriend on the cover of Newsweek, , “to show Middle America that gay love is beautiful,” He held 15 seconds of silence for the 2,000 who had died of AIDS at that point “and [for] those who will die before this is over,” He then laid-out a series of concerns for politicians to address — including increased funding for both research and support services and a warning of the potential for discrimination with the advent of a test for HTLV-3 (now known as HIV) — and appealing to all candidates in the upcoming elections to meet with people with AIDS.

Two weeks later, Campbell appeared on CBS Evening News in a live satellite interview with Dan Rather. While the rumors and fear of AIDS had reached a mainstream audience, the facts had not, so Campbell was placed in a glass booth, with technicians refusing to come near him to wire up microphones for the interview.

At noon on August 15, 1984, exactly a month after his DNC speech and after 2 days on life support in intensive care, Bobbi Campbell died at San Francisco General Hospital.   His parents and his partner Bobby Hilliard were by his side.  Bobbi Campbell was 32 years old and had lived for over 3½ years with what was by then called AIDS

His partner Bobby Hilliard would succumb to the deadly disease not long afterwards.

It is almost impossible in this day and age to imagine the full extent of the fear, prejudice and misinformation that surrounded the disease in the early years and those who were infected. Even well into the late 1990’s and even sometimes today phobia against people with AIDS runs rampant, along with misinformation about how AIDS is transmitted and threats of criminalization against them.

In the 1980’s, televangelist and fear mongers like Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and others were spewing the belief that AIDS was “God’s punishment” against homosexuality.  People with AIDS faced ostracism from family and friends, discrimination in housing and employment. At one point even funeral directors refused to bury the bodies of those who died from the disease. And to make matters wasn’t until 1985 that then President of the United States Ronald Reagan would mention the word AIDS,  let alone do anything to stop the disease and by this time thousands of gay Americans had already died.

Both Bobbi Campbell and Bobby Hilliard should be remembered forever as what they are.  True heroes of the gay community.

Shall they never be forgotten.

Bobby Hilliard

Bobbi Campbell newsweek

Gay History – September 18, 1985: Ronald Reagan FINALLY Mentions AIDS For The First Time

Although AIDS was first identified in 1981, and the victims, mostly gay men were succumbing to the disease at an epidemic rate, President Ronald Reagan did not mention it publicly for over four years. 

When Reagan finally mentioned AIDS, briefly a press conference in 1985, he was asked about the budget allocation for research:

Q: Mr. President, the Nation’s best-known AIDS scientist says the time has come now to boost existing research into what he called a minor moonshot program to attack this AIDS epidemic that has struck fear into the Nation’s health workers and even its schoolchildren. Would you support a massive government research program against AIDS like the one that President Nixon launched against cancer?

President Reagan: I have been supporting it for more than 4 years now. It’s been one of the top priorities with us, and over the last 4 years, and including what we have in the budget for ’86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I’m sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it’ll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there’s no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer.

During the diseases early years between June 1981 and May 1982 the CDC spent less than $1 million dollars on AIDS and over $9 million dollars on Legionnaire’s Disease. At that point in time more than 1,000 of the 2,000 reported AIDS cases resulted in death; there were fewer than 50 deaths from Legionnaire’s Disease during the entire course of it’s disease.

This drastic lack of funding would continue.

In 1986 Reagan requested $85 million for AIDS research, but Congress horrified at the low number bumped that figure up to $244 million only to have Reagan then unsuccessfully try to rescind $50 million of that figure. According to the Boston Globe, but he ultimately agreed to Congress’ figure.

In 1987, Reagan proposed cutting the research budget for AIDS down to $214 million. Congress again responded dramatically against Reagan by raising it to about $400 million.

During the year of 1986 – 1987 that AIDS patients were dying at a rate of about 80 per week.

By the end of Reagan’s presidential term on January 20, 1989 115,786 men mostly gay and some women had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States—more then 70,000 of them died.

Never, never forget.