The Cooper Do-nuts Riot

The Cooper Do-nuts Riot, Los Angeles – May 1959

A full decade before Stonewall, police faced another angry crowd when they tried to round up the gay men, trans women, hustlers and drag queens who frequented a late-night L.A coffee shop.

As had happened before, officers entering Cooper’s demanded identification: If a customer’s gender presentation didn’t match the gender on their ID, they’d be taken to jail. They attempted to arrest several customers—including author John Rechy, who recounted the incident in City of Night—but onlookers threw coffee, donuts and trash and the cops fled empty-handed. As the riot spread into the streets, police backup blocked off Main Street and arrested more protestors. The incident is considered one of the first LGBT uprisings in the U.S.

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