SILVER LAKE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) – Hundreds of LGBT members and supporters held a peaceful protest in Silver Lake Saturday, marking the 50th anniversary of the first major gay rights demonstration in the U.S.

On this night in 1967, hundreds of LGBT members gathered outside the Black Cat Tavern. Their peaceful demonstration followed the arrest of same-sex couples and incidents of police brutality at the bar on New Year’s Eve.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell explained what happened.

“There were about 11 undercover officers in the bar and when two men kissed at the stroke of midnight, they were arrested. Several people were dragged out of the bar. It was a raid, essentially, and the two men had to register as sex offenders,” he shared.

O’Farrell, who is openly gay, helped organize Saturday’s event for its 50th anniversary of the protest.

Hundreds of people gathered once again at the Black Cat, including 80-year-old Alexei Romanoff, who organized the original protest.

Many people in the crowd said they were proud of the progress made for LGBT rights over the last five decades, but they say there’s more work to do.

“LGBT youth and individuals continue to struggle with homelessness, lack of employment, discrimination, and with the new administration, we have a lot of unknowns,” shared Maria Roman, a transgender woman.

For the gay community, many feel the continued fight for equality is more important now than ever before.

“Who would’ve known that celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Black Cat demonstration would be under this current cloud that we feel ourselves in,” O’Farrell added. “It just makes this night even more important because of that.”


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