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17 January 2016

Three Centuries of Police raids

I think that this is a first attempt at compiling such a list. Four Us raids: Cooper's Doughnuts, Dewey's Lunch Counter, Compton's Cafeteria and Stonewall are frequently mentioned, but there were a lot more, even in the US. There are probably many more that I have missed.
February Mother Clap's Molly House, Field Lane, Holborn, London
Most found-ins were eventually set free because of lack of evidence, but some were fined, imprisoned and exhibited in the pillory. Three were hanged at Tyburn. Rictor Norton
8 July White Swan, Drury Lane
A Molly House where 'faux marriages' were arranged, young boys and female clothing was provided. After a raid and trial, 2 were executed, 6 were pilloried and imprisoned. Blogarticle
26 July Druids' Hall, London
After 18 month's police observation, the balls were raided. Some were charged with disguising themselves as women with the purpose of exciting others to commit an unnatural offence. They pleaded naivety and were released. GVWW
September Temperance Ball, Hulme, Manchester
The Hall was rented supposedly for the Manchester Pawnbrokers' Association. About half of the dancers were cross-dressed. The police followed a tip-off and raided, but the magistrate released all. GVWW
July 19 Cleveland St, Fitzrovia, London
A male brothel that offered cross-dressing as well as other services. Members of the establishment including the Heir Presumptive were customers. EN.Wikipedia
Fitzroy Square, London

Alfred Taylor, who would be a co-defendent with Oscar Wilde the next year, and Arthur Marling, a female impersonator, were arrested for wearing female clothing at a party given by John Preston. GVWW
17-18 November 4a calle de la Paz, Mexico City 
The local policeman noticed many carriages depositing passengers, and investigated. He discovered 41 male-bodied persons dancing, 19 dressed as female. He called reinforcements and they were all arrested. It was rumoured that the President's son-in-law was allowed to escape. 19 of the arrested were inducted into the army and sent to do forced labour in the Yucatan where a Mayan insurgency (the Caste War) was being suppressed with the assistance of the UK government. GVWW
Reginald de Veulle and Joseph Dean were at a drag party when locals, having realised the nature of the party, starting throwing stones.
31 March 1128 West Twenty-Eighth Street, Los Angeles
After a trip to Bakersfield, Arthur Harper, an ex-mayor of Los Angeles, and his wife returned home unexpectedly, on the last day of March 1920, to find a raid by the Los Angeles police ‘purity squad’ against a party given by their son Joseph, 24. Joseph and seven others were in female garb. The police claimed that a ‘degenerate orgy’ was in progress, and charged all twenty found with Social Vagrancy. The female garb was confiscated as ‘evidence’, and those wearing it had to send for masculine clothing before they could leave. Eight were denied bail after failing to pass medical quarantine examinations. GVWW
4 February Black Parrot Tea Shoppe Hobo-Hemia, Greenwich Village, New York

Detectives Joseph Massie and Dewey Hughes of the Special Service Squad were assigned to the Black Parrot Tea Shoppe Hobo-Hemia, 46 Charles Street, to witness what they had been informed would be a “circus", and arrested five women and eight men. However on closer inspection, Ruby Bernhammer 21 from West Hoboken, New Jersey, did not meet their definition of a woman. Bernhammer was charged with disorderly conduct for giving an indecent dance, and they gave her name as 'Harry'. Another arrested was Arthur C. Budd also 21 who worked as a female impersonator in “The Lady in Ermine” at The Century Theater under the name Rosebud. GVWW
27 Holland Park, London
Austin S., barman organized a ball for domestic servants and hotel staff. Many of the men were cross-dressed. The event was raided by the police; 33 men and 1 woman were arrested. The subsequent trial became the most widely reported English 'pansy case’ of the 1930s. GVWW

The Big House, Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
From 1932 onwards, and especially after the end of Alcohol Prohibition in 1933, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) started busting the pansy clubs. The raid on The Big House in the fall of 1932 is notable in that it met resistance: the patrons fought back and a female impersonator attempted to escape through a window. However he, the owner and two patrons were arrested. GVWW
6 May Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, Hatzfeldschen Palais in Berlin-Tiergarten
The building had been bought by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1919 for the Institut, and had been recognised by the German government as a registered charity. When the National-Socialist Party became the government in 1933, the destruction of the Institute was a priority. GVWW

21 May The Buddy's Rendezvous, Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
The Big House, renamed Buddy's Rendezvous, reopened, and the police returned eight months later. The waiter was arrested for selling liquor and beer without a proper licence, and five transvestites were arrested on vagrancy charges. Each received the maximum six-month jail sentence for masquerading, and the bar finally closed. GVWW

23 May Tait's, San Francisco.
Rae Bourbon was performing, and the performance was being broadcast live on the radio, when the club was raided by the police. GVWW Blogarticle
20 December The Cabin Inn, 3119 Cottage Grove Avenue, Bronzville, Chicago
The Cabin Inn was first raided in October when it hosted a wedding between a trans woman and a man. The impersonators were given a choice: "put on your pants or go to jail with the management". The Inn paid bribes, and quickly re-opened. The police returned and cited the Cabin Inn for violating its entertainment license. Twelve had been arrested: the two owners, two bartenders, the floodlight operator and seven female impersonators, three working at the Cabin Inn and four guests. In South State Street Court Judge Eugene McGarry dismissed all the charges: "The testimony does not show any specific violations of ordinance ... It appears that these men were dressed in female clothes. The testimony shows that it was a masquerade party. Female impersonators appear on stage every day. In the absence of any such testimony I have no choice but to find the defendants not guilty and that will be the order." GVWW


November, La Paloma Nightclub outside Miami

After a KKK raid on the club, The Dade County sheriff declared the club to be a menace, and ordered that the club remain closed. However it did re-open. Two weeks after the KKK raid, the sheriff and his men themselves raided the club.  This time the club again re-opened after two days.  GVWW
Le Binocle, Paris 
Closed by the police in the austerity period that preceded the coming war. GVWW

July: La Paloma Nightclub outside Miami

Another police raid on La Paloma, and they arrested “four men employed . . . to wear feminine clothes and impersonate women in songs and dances”. None of the four appeared in court – they were represented by the club’s attorney, Fred Pine, who entered pleas of guilty. They were to pay a fine of $25 or serve “30 days on charges of vagrancy”. The one exception was an impersonator whose male name was Robert Trent, who appeared personally and was freed on a directed verdict.  GVWW


++November 22: Ueno Park. Tokyo

Police raid on trans prostitutes.  This was motivated not so much by the fact that these were trans prostitutes as by the fact they were seeking customers outside the designated red-light zones. The situation turned into a riot during which several policemen were injured. The incident was widely reported in the press.

January Wiltshire, Los Angeles
Three young African Americans were arrested for dressing as female. They claimed to be domestic servants. Lavender Los Angeles, p48.

The steamer Robert E. Lee, on the Potomac River
An African-American river outing with some cross-dressed. The police arrested some. GVWW
November LaVie Cafe, Altadena, Los Angeles.

The LAPD raided and arrested five 'men' for wearing women's clothes. Lavender Los Angeles, p48.

Tommy's Place, 529 Broadway, San Francisco
The bar was closed by the vice Squad. Two of the bartenders were charged with serving minors, and then some heroin, probably planted, was found in the ladies' toilets. Tommy lost her license and one of the bartenders was convicted. GVWW
October National Variety Artists Ball, Manhattan Center, New York
143 were arrested, including Perry Desmond. GVWW
May. Cooper's Doughnuts, Main St, Los Angeles
Police harrasment led to a riot. Queerty
Stella Minge's Molly House, Silverton, Newham, London
London's last Molly House was raided now and then. GVWW

26 October National Variety Artists Ball, Manhattan Center, New York
Usually left alone, this year the NYPD raided the ball and arrested 30 or 43 "men" in female costume. This was the night before the trans gathering at Chevalier D’Eon Resort in upstate New York dominated by Virginia Prince. Those arrested appeared before Judge William Ringel who ruled that they could not be "''masquerading to conceal identity" if they were at a masquerade ball. GVWW

++The Yuga Ball, Metairie, New Orleans

The first gay 'krewe' – of the krewes that put on the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations – was the Yuga Krewe, founded in 1958. The fourth and fifth Yuga Balls were held in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie in a school that had a large dance studio, and was surrounded by a wooded area close to the lake. The second gay krewe, that of Petronius, held its first ball in 1962 at the same location. However the Yuga Ball a week later was raided by the Parish Police. Some managed to flee, but many were arrested in what the police dubbed a ‘lewd stag party’. Those arrested had their names printed in the newspapers and thus most lost their jobs.
February The Black Cat Bar, 710 Montgomery St, San Francisco
José Sarria performed at the Black Cat doing camp versions of operatic arias. The police regularly raided gay bars and charged everyone, particularly trans women (as cross-dressing was a municipal crime), found inside. José urged that they plead not guilty which overloaded the courts and judges started demanding actual evidence. After years of harassment, but winning some court cases against the harassment, but with a legal cost of $38,000, the bar was forced to close. EN.Wikipedia
25 April Dewey's Lunch Counter, 219 S 17th St, Philadelphia
Deweys was a Philadelphia chain restaurant. The Dewey's at 208 s 13th St was the 'fag' branch where drags queens, hustlers, lesbian and cops ate and drank side by side. The other branches, especially the 17th St branch wanted it that only the 13th St branch be so. They started refusing service to known homosexuals and "persons wearing non-conformist clothing". 150 protesters staged a sit-in and the police were called. 3 protesters were arrested. At a second sit-in a week later the police declined to take any action, and the management agreed to end discrimination. BlogArticle
August Compton's Cafeteria, 101 Taylor St at Turk, San Francisco.
This branch of Compton's was one of few places in the city were trans persons could go. However the staff had started calling the police to arrest trans persons. By August a picket was launched. One night friction exploded into riot, dishes were smashed and the windows were smashed. The next night was a repeat. EN.Wikipedia
Midnight, 1 January The Black Cat Tavern, 3909 West Sunset Boulevard.

On the last night of 1966 there was a drag contest at New Faces, a bar on W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. Just before midnight many of the contestants crowded into the Black Cat, just down the street. At the stroke of midnight, as many of the men exchanged a traditional kiss, the LAPD rushed in and beat several customers brutally. They chased two back to the New Faces where they knocked down the woman owner and beat the two bartenders unconscious, one of whom then suffered a ruptured spleen and after recovery was charged with felony assault on a police officer. Six patrons were charged with lewd conduct for kissing, and were all found guilty by a jury. Two of them were later registered as sex offenders. In response, there were organized protests, and the convictions of the two were appealed as far as the US Supreme Court which declined to take the case. This inspired a new periodical, The Advocate, for gay and lesbian (including transvestite) issues. GVWW EN.Wikipedia
2 am 28 June The Stonewall Inn, 51-53 Christopher St, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York
In pursuance of a case of stolen bonds and blackmail, the NYPD decided to raid the Stonewall Inn whose management was implicated. However they chose to raid late at night when the Inn was busy with customers, and ended up paying more attention to how people were dressed than to evidence of blackmail. They took a paddy wagon designated for drag queens, from whom they met the first significant resistance. The police lost control, and a full-scale riot ensued, and continued for three nights. If the upstairs office was searched, it was not mentioned. The riots are now iconic, and taken as the origin of trans liberation. GVWW
Stonewall Club on Twenty-first Street, Miami Beach, Florida
After a raid and arrests Angela Douglas of TAO files suit for discrimination. GVWW
February Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London
The Gay Lib drag commune, Bethnal Rouge, was invited by Goldsmith College Gay Soc to give a Pre-Disco talk. Group 4 Total Security working for the College attacked them before they even spoke, and when Lewisham police arrived they were told that Bethnal Rouge had come to the disco to cause trouble. One queen needed hospital treatment; another who was head butted lost two front teeth. One was arrested and later that night thrown through a glass door in the police station. The rest escaped. GVWW
21 April South London Gay Community Centre, 78 Railton Rd, Herne Hill, London
The building and next-door had been empty for many years when they were squatted in 1974 and became the Gay Community Centre and the Women's Centre. Alternate lifestyles, art and politics flourished. "Gender bending was encouraged to dissolve rigid categories of masculine men and feminine women. For others dressing in drag was a sheer pleasure and an opportunity for ingenious invention". However finally the legal owners asserted their position and bailiffs and police arrived to take the property so that it could be sold to Lambeth Council for £25,000 for redevelopment. BlogArticle
3am, 15 July. Sex Garage loft party in Old Montreal.
Sex Garage, hosted by New Yorker Nicolas Jenkins, catered to the "butches, trannies and drag queens" who were reviled elsewhere, and mixed them with all sorts. 16 police cruisers and 40 officers with billy clubs became angry when they found no money behind the bar. Some drag queens climbed out the windows and crawled across rooftops. Many of the rest of the crowd were beaten, and photographs were in the next day's newspapers. Demonstrations started the next evening, and on the 16th they were met with more police brutality, documented by journalists. Demonstrations continued for two months. Led to Lesbians and Gays Against Violence (LGV) which led to La Table de concertation des gaies et lesbiennes du grand Montreal, which lobbied for the Quebec Human Rights Commission’s historic 1993 public hearings on violence against gays and lesbians. Newsarticle Wikipedia

19 July Centre de Christ Libérateur (CCL), 3bis, rue Clairaut, Paris
Joseph Douce, gay priest, author of La Question transsexuelle, who organised meetings and counselling for trans persons, was the prime mover behind CCL. Two men showed police badges and asked him to go with them. In late October his decomposed body was found in the forest of Rambouillet outside Paris. It is claimed that he was taken by the political police, Renseignements Généraux (RG). RG section leader Jean-Marc Dufourg was questioned about Douce’s death, fired and convicted of misuse of a firearm, but never officially admitted to be Doucé’s murderer. GVWW

14 November Tuntenhaus Forellenhof, Mainzer Straße 4, Berlin
After the fall of the wall, 30 houses in Mainzer Straße became squats with different orientations. Number 4 was a Tuntenhaus (queer-house). In November the police came to clear the squats, which resulted in street battles with, at its height 1400 police firing tear gas and water canons against 500 squatters. DE.Wikipedia.
11 February Mikons bar, Cordoba.

Vanessa Ledesma of Córdoba, who was active in the Asociación Travestis Unidas de Córdoba (ATUC) was arrested during a scuffle at the Mikons bar on 11 February 2000. Five days later she was dead. Vanessa Ledesma was recognized by Amnesty International as one of six cases to mark its 40th anniversary. GVWW
18 December Gondolin Hotel, Buenos Aires
The hotel was taken over by travestis from the town of Salta after the owner died with no kin to inherit. Monica León organized the Asociación Civil Gondolin, in large part to help the travestis there who were heavily into drugs and alcohol, and never used condoms. She coordinated with two hospitals to bring in 40-45 travestis monthly for check-ups to control tuberculosis. She sorted out the legal status of the hotel by getting the travestis to pay its taxes and bills. On 18 December 2004, 60 police surrounded the hotel and robbed the inmates. Monica was shot eight times in the legs. GVWW
6am 31 March Le Madame, Koźlej 12, Warsaw
From 2003 Le Madame had been a club and community centre for alternate lifestyles and opinions. In 2005 the city took ownership and with the encouragement of the ruling Kaczynski twins began harassing the club. On 31 March bailiffs and police were sent in, but were met by a sit-in. However it was cleared brutally. Street demonstrations continued for many days. Drag performer Pandora entertained in front of the building. PL.Wikipedia    newsarticle
April Lambda Istanbul
Lambda Istanbul, founded 1993, registered 2006. In 2007 the City government complained and a local court banned Lambda Istanbul. The police raided its cultural centre on grounds of "frequent visits by transgender people". The Supreme Court overruled the order on November, and in April the local court gave permission for continued operation. Newsarticle

9 November Dasarahalli, Bangalore
Police in Bangalore, India, forced 100 hijras from their homes, after a scandal about some hijras kidnapping and castrating male children. Newsarticle
12 June Riyadh
66 Filipino guest workers at a private party for Philippine Independence Day were arrested for 'imitating women' and possession of alcohol. Newsarticle

June-December Honduras
Following the US-backed military coup, opposition political activists were killed by death squads as were “up to 18 gay and transgender men have been killed nationwide — as many as the five prior years — in the nearly six months since a political crisis rocked the nation.” Newsarticle
January Japan
Three Filipino, who had previously worked in Japanese nightclubs before final surgery, were arrested on return to Japan to live with their husbands because of discrepancies in their papers. BlogArticle

26 March Mercure Hotel Surabaya
Conference held by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) was cancelled by the police after complaints and then threats by Muslims. ILGA

1 May Bumi Wijaya Hotel, Depok
The National Commission for Human Rights held a human rights training session. This was invaded by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) complaining that the Commission recognized the transsexual community. Afterwards, Satpol disputed that they had a permit. Newsarticle

17 May Pembe Hayat (Pink Life), Ankara.

Five activists were detained and brutally attacked by the police, and then charged with 'resisting police'. In October a judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence and reprimanded the police. Newsarticle

July Khartoum
19 young men in Sudan at a private party. A police raid found them in female clothing and makeup. No lawyers would defend them. They were sentenced to 30 lashes and fined. They were flogged in public. Newsarticle
February Iraq
Continuous reports of militia targeting youths which focus on attacks, kidnapping, torture and murder of ‘emo’ youth and individuals perceived as gay, lesbian or trans. GayAsylumUK has confirmed that the US-backed Iraqi authorities actively conspire in this, arresting LGBT people and handing them over to the militiamen who kill them. The Netherlands is granting asylum to GLBT Iraqis.
April Jeddah
Neighbours complained about loud music at a beach party. Some were 'dressed in women's clothes'. The police arrested 35 and accused them of being gay. Newsarticle

October Yaoundé
A private house was raided after a neighbour complained that it was frequented by 'effeminate homosexuals'. Seven trans persons were arrested and charged with being engaged in "prostitution and homosexual acts". They were later released for lack of evidence. Newsarticle

24 November Bangalore
After a recent demonstration at Pride against India's recriminalization of homosexuality in 2013, 167 hijras were arrested in a 'crackdown' on assumed beggars, although they were not begging at the time and some were dragged from their homes, and others when they went to the police station to help those already arrested. Nearly 2,000 hijras and supporters, aware of the targeted nature of the sweep marched in protest. Newsarticle
June Agadir
Police arrested 20 gay and trans persons, and charged them with “breach of public decency”. Newsarticle


  1. Thank you so much for this piece of history. I need to somehow pass this on to my trans community.

  2. A very timely article . May use this during pride month.


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