1979 – Police raid a punk rock gig at the Elks Lodge in Los Angeles

On St Patrick’s Day, 1979, a huge punk concert was held at the Elks Lodge in Los Angeles. The line-up included the Zeroes, the Wipers, the Plugz, the Go-Gos and X. However, during the Plugz set, the LAPD arrived. What happened next is the subject of some dispute.

The police claimed that they were responding to complaints and were the victims of unprovoked attacks. The punks claimed that this was a planned police operation from the start, and that they were the victims of unprovoked attacks. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Both LA punks and LA cops are notoriously aggressive and hot-headed – it’s likely there were provocations and attacks in both directions. The sheer size of the police response – which included blocking off several surrounding intersections and cops in full riot gear – lends weight to the claim that they planned the raid in advance.

The incident has passed into legend now, the first large scale bloody encounter between hardcore punks and the Los Angeles Police Department that continued for years, as part of the LAPD’s apparently un-ending war on underground music (which predates this incident by more than a decade and continues today).

Referenced in:
Pig — Angry Samoans
Elks Lodge Blues — The Gears