Stonewall Inn Given Landmark Status, Confirming That Riots Work Sometimes

June 24, 2015 | Liam Mathews

The Stonewall Inn was bestowed with individual landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday, becoming the first place designated a landmark primarily due to its importance in LGBT history, which also means that New York City officially (if tacitly) acknowledges that fighting back against the police can have a significant impact on creating social change.

The Stonewall Inn is a West Village gay bar that is considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement. On June 28, 1969, NYPD raided the bar, since it was essentially illegal for gay people to congregate in public. But instead of quietly dispersing, Stonewall patrons fought back, turning into several days of protests and physical confrontations that sparked a movement.

“New York City’s greatness lies in its inclusivity and diversity,” Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said in a statement (PDF doc). “The events at Stonewall were a turning point in the LGBT rights movement and in the history of our nation. This building is a symbol of a time when LGBT New Yorkers took a stand and vowed that they would no longer live in the shadows, standing up for the equal rights of all New Yorkers. I am proud that the Commission has designated this very special site as an individual landmark and that we have officially recognized the significance of the Stonewall Inn to the history of our city.”

The historical importance of the Stonewall Inn protests, which galvanized LGBT activists all over the world and led to the creation of Pride Week, shows that standing up to police harassment can actually work, which is an important thing to remember in these times when America kind of feels as tense as it did in the late ’60s.

(Photo: David Jones)