Every once in a while, you meet a person who has seen some stuff. You know what I mean — a person who saw the first Beatles concert, who watched Obama’s inauguration in person, who was actually at Stonewall the night of the riots. That’s the kind of person John Vasquez is. He wasn’t at Stonewall, but he was at Snake Pit only eight months later.

 
Only eight months after the Stonewall uprising, 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 (according to Bob Damron’s 1970 Address Book, an annual gay travel guide, the Snake Pit was located below the Texas Chili Parlor). The raid was led by Seymour Pine, who had also led the ill-fated raid on the Stonewall.

Fearing similar rioting when a crowd of patrons started forming, the police arrested 167 people, who were taken to the 6th Police Precinct Station House at 135 Charles Street. Argentinian immigrant Diego Vinales apparently panicked over the possibility of deportation, tried to escape from the second story of the jail, and was impaled on the iron fence below. He was cut loose along with part of the fence, taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital and survived, but word spread that he was dead or dying.
— NYC LGBT History Sites Project
 
 
I just loved to dance. There was one bar where I would just go to dance... At that time, we just didn’t worry about anything. It was just living life and having a nice time. It was different then.... I was in an underground club, in the basement of this building... The door opened up, and there was this fabulous club with a sunken bar, and a dance floor. It was wonderful. But unfortunately, the fun didn’t last that long because the place was raided by the cops that night. We all went to jail. It would have been fine except that one person got panicky. There was so many people in the club that the police couldn’t put us in cells. So, he ran upstairs and jumped out of an open window and impaled on the fence outside of the jailhouse... He panicked because he was not an American citizen and he was afraid he would be deported... He survived all that, and last I heard he was okay... I got a thing in the mail telling me to come to court. What happened was, there was so many people in the court that day, they started calling names, and the judge said, ‘Will everyone here for this case please stand up?’ Well, half the courtroom stood up. There were so many people. Our lawyer at the time was BellaAbzug. And she gave the judge such a hard time, so he said, ‘Forget it!’ He just throw the whole thing out.
— John Vasquez, talking about Snake Pit
 

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