gay bar raids


Homosexual Congregation

Pepper Hill Club Raid
Baltimore Sun, 19 October 1955

Photos taken a few days after Baltimore vice squad raided the bar in 1955.

There were 162 men and women arrested on charges of disorderly conduct at the Pepper Hill Club on North Gay Street in “the largest night-club raid ever made in Baltimore,” after male patrons among the club’s largely gay clientele were seen kissing each other. … The scope was certainly shocking: six police wagons had to make 24 trips to shuttle all the arrested to the nearby police station.

After the Pepper Hill raid, when the head of the city’s vice squad testified in court that he had previously warned the club owners against allowing “homosexuals” to congregate there, co-owner Victor Lance denied it, saying they had only been warned about one thing: A pair of female mannequin legs hanging from the ceiling.

The legs, Lance testified, had only been hung as a “gag which most people got a kick out of.”

And besides, he told the judge, department stores regularly leave mannequins in display windows without any clothing at all.

“At least,” Lance testified, “we put panties on ours.”

… A law was passed the next year banning such raids.