Thursday, May 21, 2009
White Night Riots Remembered
On May 21, 1979, 30 years ago today, the White Night Riots erupted in San Francisco as Dan White was given the most lenient sentencing possible for the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, the first elected openly gay politician in U.S. history.
When Milk’s friend Cleve Jones heard White was sentenced to only 7 1/2 years and could be out in as few as five years he hit the streets. With bullhorn in hand he led 500 people around Castro shouting, “Out of the bars and into the streets!” As people spilled out of the bars the crowd grew. Jones led approximately 5000 people to San Francisco City Hall where people called for the death of Dan White.
The crowd continued to grow as other gay neighborhoods led marches to city hall. After three hours of angry but otherwise peaceful chanting, the San Francisco police turned on the crowd with black tape covering their badges so they could not be identified. They beat the protesters with batons and tear gassed the crowed. Tired of years of violence against their community, they fought back using whatever they could find as a weapon, including tree trunks and even chunks of the street below their feet.
(Marriage Equity Blog-to read full story)