Guest Post by Davon Smith: Police Violence & the LGBT Community

We are so very excited to feature this guest post by Davon Smith who is a student at Bowen High School here in Chicago. I will be featuring other guest posts in advance of a series of events about policing, violence and resistance starting on March 18th. I thank Davon for sharing this with me and also special thanks to his teacher Bert Stabler who has engaged all of his students in this project. This post appears as Davon wrote it.

It doesn’t take a lot of searching to come across a story of inequality and unfairness towards the LGBTQ community; and it isn’t rare that people hear stories of neighbors or friends who were treated unfairly, especially in times when they are not in the position to fight back. But what you rarely hear about are the times in the past that the LGBTQ community became fed up and fought back.

The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot occurred in August 1966 San Francisco. This was one of the first recorded transgender riots in United States history. Compton’s Cafeteria was one of a chain of cafeterias that were owned by Gene Compton. Because cross-dressing was illegal at the time, police sometimes used that for their reason to raid or close the bar. The transgender customers began to grow tired of the discrimination and during a raid they fought back. Afterwards the NTCU (National Transsexual Counseling Unit) was started, which was the first peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world.

Another riot followed soon afterwards. It was June 28, 1969 just after 3 a.m. when the police raided the Stonewall Inn which was a gay club in New York. It began to get violent when onlookers began to throw bottles at the police as they began to put three of the gay participants into paddy wagons. Although the police were legally justified in raiding the club, the LGBTQ customers were tired of police- who had already closed down other gay clubs in New York. It is also sometimes seen by many as history’s first major protest on behalf of equal rights for homosexuals.

Now I’m sure you understand why I see these events as police brutality. It is highly unfair for the police to discriminate against gays. The LGBTQ community deserves to live in a society in peace without fear of being uprooted for their lifestyle. These events should’ve never had to happen. But they did start a movement to reform the way that gays are treated by police and other authority figures.

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