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Seymour Pine, Cop Who Led Stonewall Raid, Dies at 91

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2010

Seymour Pine, the deputy police inspector who led the 1969 raid on the Stonewall Inn, died Thursday at an assisted-living center in Whippany, N.J. He was 91. According to The New York Times:

In 2004, Inspector Pine spoke during a discussion of the Stonewall uprising at the New-York Historical Society. At the time of the raid, he said, the police “certainly were prejudiced” against gays, “but had no idea about what gay people were about.”

The department regularly raided gay clubs for two reasons, he said. First, he insisted, many clubs were controlled by organized crime; second, arresting gay people was a way for officers to improve their arrest numbers. “They were easy arrests,” he said. “They never gave you any trouble” — at least until that night.

When someone in the audience said Inspector Pine should apologize for the raid, he did.

Pine figures prominently in a forthcoming two-hour documentary, “Stonewall Uprising,” which will air as part of PBS’s American Experience in 2011. The documentary is currently playing at LGBT film festivals around the country. The documentary ends with Pine saying, “You knew they broke the law, but what kind of law was that?”

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