March 8, 1970
Police Raid at the Snake Pit
In the early morning of March 8, 1970, police raided the Snake Pit, a gay-run, non-Mafia, after-hours bar in the basement of a Greenwich Village apartment building.
Fearing rioting on par with the Stonewall Uprising (just eight months prior), the NYPD arrested 167 people, who were taken to the 6th Police Precinct Station House at 135 Charles Street.
Argentinian immigrant Diego Vinales, who was only 23 years old, apparently panicked over the possibility of deportation, tried to escape from the third story of the jail, and was impaled on the iron fence below. He was cut loose along with part of the fence by firemen, taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital and survived, but word spread that he was dead or dying. A number of arrested men found an empty police office and started making phone calls to Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) leaders and to the press, generating interest from the New York Daily News. GAA and Gay Liberation Front organized a quick response later that afternoon – an angry protest by a crowd numbering around 500 people, who marched from Christopher Park to the police station (pictured).
Today, learn more about this significant event in LGBT history through the Project website:
The Snake Pit
Site of a March 8, 1970, NYPD raid which received much media coverage and is credited with greatly inspiring more LGBT people to become politically active, including many who had not following Stonewall, such as future film historian Vito Russo and future GAA president Morty Manford. It also demonstrated the strength of the recently formed gay rights movement organizations. EXPLORE THIS SITE >>>
6th Police Precinct Station House
Following the March 1970 police raid on the Snake Pit, 167 gay men were arrested and taken by NYPD to the station house at 135 Charles Street. Apparently fearing deportation, Argentinian immigrant Diego Vinales, one of the men arrested, jumped from a third-story window and was critically injured. He was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital and a crowd of about 500 people confronted the police at the station. EXPLORE THIS SITE >>>
Below, a Gay Activists Alliance flyer for the Snake Pit raid, written by Marty Robinson. Angry protesters, numbering around 500, marched from Christopher Park to the police station where they were met by barricades and armed police during a half-hour confrontation.