SILVER LAKE — Well over 100 people attended a Saturday night reenactment of The Black Cat gay rights protest, which took place 50 years ago outside a Sunset Boulevard gay bar. It is regarded as the nation’s first major gay rights demonstration.
Tonight’s marchers held up signs with some of the same messages presented in 1967 — “End Illegal Entrapment” and “Peace in Silverlake” as well as new messages — “Love Trumps Hate — that reflect the events of today.
City leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, Controller Ron Galperin and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell — who represents Silver Lake — participated in the reenactment and rally outside of the former Black Cat Tavern. Gay patrons celebrating New Year’s Eve in 1967 at the Black Cat were arrested and beaten during a police raid. The demonstration was held several weeks later outside the same bar to protest police brutality and support the civil rights of gays — two years before New York’s well-known Stonewall Riots.
The Black Cat eventually closed, and the same space later housed a Latino gay bar, Le Barcito, for several years before closing in 2011. The following year a new restaurant opened under The Black Cat name and features historic photos of 1967 demonstration. In 2008, the city declared the building a historic landmark.
During Saturday night’s 50th anniversary tribute, Alexei Romanoff, one of the organizers of the 1967 protest, remarked on the dramatic changes in the decades since. “A police officer [tonight] shook my hand and said “thank you,”‘ Romanoff told the crowd, which spilled out of a parking lot and into the street during the anniversary rally.
“It’s going to be …. on your shoulders to carry the fight forward,” Romanoff told the crowd.
— Hailey Branson-Potts (@haileybranson) February 12, 2017
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