Starting in 1965, Jack Heimbigner pays officers from the Seattle Police Department a total of $200 a month as "protection" from police harassment to the Atlas Club, which opened in 1964. The Atlas Club, owned by Jack Heimbigner, is a gay bathhouse located in Seattle at 1318 2nd Avenue on the fourth floor.
According to Heimbigner, Officers Joe Robinson and Don Kuehl approached him and demanded $200 per month. The police officers promised not to harass or intimidate the club or its customers if payments were made. The $200 was divided between the three shifts of beat officers that cover the area, the two night shifts receiving $75 each per month and the day shift receiving $50 per month. The payoffs continued until 1968.
Jack Heimbigner, owner of other gay establishments in Seattle, and James Barnett, manager of the Atlas Club, testified in a June 1970 trial that exposed the police protection payoff system. The trial led to convictions, forced resignations, and a reorganization of the Seattle Police Department, which ended the practice.
"Life Threatened, Says Trial Witness," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 24, 1970, p. B; "Bribes Detailed by Club Operator," The Seattle Times, June 23, 1970, p. 7; Don Paulson and Roger Simpson, An Evening At the Garden of Allah A Gay Cabaret in Seattle (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 166.
Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that
encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both
HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any
reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this
Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For
more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact
the source noted in the image credit.
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided
The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins
| Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry
| 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle
| City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach
Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private
Sponsors and Visitors Like You