Montgomery, Alabama’s A Touch of Soul Cafe was preparing for a late night drag show last Saturday when police arrived and told them they had to shut down at midnight, even though the owner, Geri Moss said she believed she could stay open until 2 a.m.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, the café was in the middle of its Pride Month celebrations and did not expect to be shut down early.
Montgomery drag queen Victoria A Jewelle had been preparing for the show last Saturday when the police arrived. She told local news that it immediately reminded her of Stonewall.
“That was a very surreal moment. I’ll tell you this: It’s been 50 years since Stonewall. We know what that situation was. I was sitting there like, ‘Damn, we can’t do this again,’” Jewelle said.
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It wasn’t immediately clear why the police shut down the venue but the business took to social media to find out why. Moss said that she could not get a clear answer from law enforcement what happened or even exactly what agency had showed up at the business to make it close.
“I think it’s centered on the fact that I had the audacity to come downtown and give a disadvantaged people a night to enjoy themselves, to come and be safe in a place,” Moss told the Montgomery Advertiser.
Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley finally explained: supposedly, the law enforcement “operation” had been planned for weeks in advance to monitor “safety issues” in the area around the cafe, which is near to other late-night restaurants and clubs.
“Because the restaurant was operating as a business Saturday night, i.e., open to the public and accepting money, it was bound by the requirements of its city business license and required to close at midnight,” Finley said.
But some of the performers were still unsettled by the timing.
“If it’s something that they do every other week, maybe they should pick another week to do it,” Jewelle told local news. “Why this weekend of all weekends? That’s the question that the gay community has right now. Why this weekend? This is our weekend.”