1) Free the Slaves t-shirt. Los Angeles: 1976. T-Shirt made by gay activists in the aftermath of the Mark IV police raid. No tag, handmade screenprint. 2) Support the Felons. Los Angeles: 1976. 1 1⁄2 in. Orange button made by gay activists in the aftermath of the Mark IV police raid. 3) “The LAPD Freed the Slaves” button. Los Angeles: 1976. 2 1⁄4 in. Black button made by gay activists in the aftermath of the Mark IV police raid. 2 Buttons. 4) 13 Photographs. Los Angeles: 1976. 3 1⁄4 x 4 1⁄4 in. Thirteen black and white and color Polaroid photographs documenting protests, press appearances, and the building in the aftermath of the Mark IV police raid. Some photos captioned on verso. Item #5769
Collection of thirteen amaetur photographs and various ephemera from the aftermath of the LAPD’s 1976 raid of a gay bathhouse BDSM- themed fundraiser.
On April 10, 1976, the LAPD staged a massive raid on a Los Angeles Leather Fraternity fundraiser at the Mark IV Baths. The event offered consenting S&M participants to be auctioned off as role-playing slaves, with proceeds benefiting the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center and other local gay community organizations.
The LAPD raided the gathering with helicopters, buses, and dozens of police, with television news crews in tow. Forty-two people were arrested, including John Embry, the publisher of leather magazine Drummer. The police released statements claiming they had stopped an actual slave auction and described the participants as extremely dangerous perverts. Ultimately, the district attorney only charged four of the 42 participants arrested - with prostitution instead of human trafficking, for which they received fines and community service. The media coverage, mounting homophobic paranoia on part of the LAPD, and tensions among the gay community made this event notorious. A second auction was staged to raise defense funds and protests erupted across the city.
These photographs, pins, and T-shirt document the aftermath of the raid and the response from some of the late 1970s gay community in Los Angeles.