Police force gay hangout in Seattle to pay so-called protection money from 1966 to 1968.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 5/31/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1175
In 1966, police officers from the Seattle Police Department force The Caper Club to pay $165 a week in "protection money." The club, located in the Morrison Hotel in Seattle at 517 3rd Avenue, offers dancing with live and recorded music to a predominately gay clientele.

According to owner Jake Heimbigner, a Sergeant Reader or Rader approached him and asked for $200 a week, but Heimbigner was able to get it reduced to $165 a week. Heimbigner said payments were made on the street at various locations; "He (Reader) would call me each week and tell me the place." Payoffs continued until 1968.

Officers in the Seattle Police Department would pick establishments located in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle, or in the International District, establishments involved in illegal or nearly illegal activities, and shake them down. They demanded money, free booze and food, and other favors to "protect" these establishments from being hassled and perhaps being put out of business.

Heimbigner made these statements in a June 1970 trial that exposed these practices and led to convictions, forced resignations, and a complete reorganization of the Seattle Police Department.

Sources: "Life Threatened, Says Trial Witness," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 24, 1970, p. B.

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