BUSTLE -- Marc Stein, a San Francisco State University historian and the author of The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History, tells Bustle that police undeniably raided the bar. Based on the documents that Stein gathered for his book, the timeline of what happened, including police reports, suggests that the police were initially at the bar undercover.
Those officers left to get backup and then re-entered, asking for everyone inside to produce identification, Stein says. Some in the bar — likely the people of color, trans people, those without IDs like undocumented immigrants and anyone who talked back — were taken out of the bar to be brought to the police station, according to Stein.
There had actually been other clashes between gay protesters and police across the country, some of them large in scale, Stein says. In San Francisco, there was the Compton’s Cafeteria riot in the Tenderloin, and in Los Angeles, there were protests at the Black Cat in Silverlake. None of them changed the course of LGBTQ history in the same way.
It’s really the organizing that came immediately after and persisted over the next few years that explains why Stonewall stuck as such a defining moment, Stein notes. “People would invoke the riots” during the months to follow, he says, “but it took a while for it to loom quite so large.”