The Shmooze

Jewish Cop Who Inadvertently Helped Advance Gay Rights Dies

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share

A Jewish cop whose actions in 1969 helped advance rights for gay people in the U.S. — albeit inadvertently — has died at the age of 91.

Seymour Pine was the deputy police inspector who led the raid on the Greenwich Village gay bar the Stonewall Inn in 1969. As The New York Times wrote in today’s Pine obit, the moment — and the legendary riots that followed — “helped start the gay liberation movement.” Stonewall, gay historian David Carter told the Times, “is to the gay movement what the fall of the Bastille is to the unleashing of the French Revolution.”

Pine apologized repeatedly for his role in the raid. In a now-famous 2004 talk at the New York Historical Society, according to the Villager newspaper, “Pine admitted that the police of the era were biased against gays. “They certainly were prejudiced. There was no question about that,” he said. “But they had no idea about what gay people were about.”

The Villager reported that Pine said there were two reasons why police raided gay clubs: First, many of them were controlled by organized crime. “We weren’t concerned about gays. We were concerned about the Mafia,” he said. Second, collaring gays was a way for officers to pad arrest records.

At least one other Jew played a pivotal role in the riots that night, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall uprising looked like “violent chaos to then-reporter Howard Smith, who spotted activity from his Village Voice office and walked into the first night’s riot.

Standing with police as crowds surged toward the bar, Smith took shelter inside, invited by Pine. “We were both Jewish, and liked each other, but I still thought the crowd might kill us,” Smith said. Smith, who told the Chronicle he spent a night under siege inside the bar, credits Pine with ensuring that no rioters were killed. He later wrote a classic Voice cover story about the experience.

The Times said Pine is survived by two sons, a brother and sister, and seven grandchildren.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Gay, David Carter, Cop, Seymour Pine, Stonewall Inn

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.