"Stonewall Uprising," a documentary on the June 1969 protests by the gay and lesbian community after an NYPD raid against a Mafia-run dive in New York City's Greenwich Village, premieres tonight on PBS as part of the American Experience series.
The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the modern gay rights movement, and over the following decades often has been characterized as a protest against police harassment. However, in actuality, the Stonewall Inn was raided pursuant to an investigation against its reputed mob owners, and the ensuing rage on the streets by its gay patrons was directed as much against the wise guys as the boys in blue. Of course, a few rowdy nights by some angry patrons were not going to chase the Mafia out of the lucrative gay bar racket which it had controlled for decades in New York City. Indeed, in 1986 the feds obtained a conviction against Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, the reputed Genovese capo who allegedly was behind the Stonewall Inn, for a skimming operation involving some of his gay bars. The question remains whether the mob to this day still has a hidden hand in some gay establishments, and based upon claims from some industry insiders, the answer may be yes.