Black Cat Protests, Los Angeles – February 11, 1967
On New Year’s Day 1967, undercover cops raided the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake, brandishing guns and beating patrons with clubs and pool cues. A bartender was pulled across the bar, lacerating his face on broken glass. Several drag queens were arrested, as were two men engaging in a New Year’s kiss. (The couple was convicted of lewd conduct and had to register as sex offenders.)
Weeks later, 200 protesters picketed for days in front of the tavern, marking the first time LGBT people organized against police harassment. They were met by squadrons of armed officers, but continued their peaceful protest.
The Black Cat raid and subsequent demonstrations inspired Richard Mitch and Bill Rau to turn a local gay rights newsletter into The Los Angeles Advocate, which soon became The Advocate, the nation’s first national LGBT newsmagazine.
In 2008, The Black Cat was designated as the first Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument landmarked for its significant role in LGBT history. On February 11, 2017, activists re-enacted the picket outside Black Cat to commemorate the demonstration’s 50th anniversary.
Today, the Black Cat is a gastropub serving a diverse clientele. Photos from the protests hang on the walls inside.