In 1969, the Stonewall Inn was a place where New York’s gay men gathered. Subjected to raids by police, the Inn was one of the only places in NYC where gay men could dance. There was no running water, no fire exits and regular cash payoffs to the cops were required to keep the bar open and running.
On the night of June 28th, police decided to stage a raid on the Stonewall, and that was the breaking point. Gay men decided right then and there, they had had enough. It wasn’t just the raid that set off the riots – it was the whole cultural attitude towards gay men, lesbians and transsexuals.
The raid did not go as planned. Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.
Enthusiastic police officers got in a scuffle with some homeless gay men who lived in a nearby park, a few people got knocked down, and all hell broke loose. The Stonewall Inn was set on fire by gay protesters, although it was open for business again the next evening, so the damage wasn’t all that severe. Police cars were rocked, graffiti was sprawled and leaflets littered the streets. Witnesses described the exhilaration of what was a breakthrough moment in gay liberation: ‘From going to places where you had to knock on a door and speak to someone through a peephole in order to get in. We were just out. We were in the streets.’
Is rioting a legitimate form of protest?
You know what the Stonewall rioters didn’t do? They didn’t burn down Greenwich Village and loot the stores. Fires were started in garbage cans, not in stores or gas stations. The point of the riot and the protest was to make it clear that the gay and lesbian community in NYC was sick of being raided, sick of being shaken down for money, sick of being treated like the ‘forces of faggotry’. They wanted their civil rights, not transistor radios.
That isn’t true when it comes to the rioters in Milwaukee. Rioters set fire to businesses, and smashed out windows so they could steal stuff.
That isn’t protest.
I cannot muster any sympathy for protesters that use the riots as an opportunity to act like thugs or pirates. In the LA riots that followed the acquittal of the officers who beat Rodney King, black rioters burned down and looted Korean businesses, based on racial stereotypes they had of one another. The idea that Koreans somehow had a leg up on black Americans is laughable. Asian Americans have long faced discrimination, and Koreans are no exception. Korean men are emasculated, Korean women eroticized and the whole group considered inscrutable and untrustworthy. Hardly a sweet deal, but Koreans place extremely high value on intact, multigenerational families that include fathers and the educational achievement of their children.
Koreans can and do achieve the American Dream, despite the nasty caricatures they have to deal with. And for those people who argue that part of the issue with Islamic integration has to do with the US bombing countries in the Middle East, keep in mind that Korea knows a thing or two about eating American firepower, and yet there has been a mysterious lack of radical Korean terrorists who fly airplanes into buildings. Same goes for Vietnam. And Japan. Bombs galore. No terrorists.
Koreans came here expecting opportunities and found them. Despite obstacles, they have achieved life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
A significant percentage of black America has not.
Vox has an interesting article up, claiming that racial segregation created a powder keg that led to the riots, but doesn’t explain why the similarly segregated Asian (red) and Hispanic (gold) communities aren’t similar powder kegs.
Fathers and schools.
How to fix that? I’m not sure. It’s a deeply complicated problem that will require both the government and the black community to address. The government needs to stop incentivizing the removal of men from families, and men need jobs. If Trump can pull off his mercantilist revolution, that will go a long way towards fixing some of the issues. One thing, however, is certain: stealing stuff and calling it a civil rights protest will not work. There are lots of good reasons to riot.
Flatscreen TVs and hairweaves aren’t some of them.
Lots of love,