Tuesday, May 21, 2019

White Night Riot anniversary musings

May 21, forty years ago, was indeed an interesting evening.

Like so many others, the news that a jury had let Dan White off with a slap on the wrist hit me hard. It was uncontested that the ex-cop had murdered Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in their City Hall offices the previous November. How could this miscarriage of justice have happened? Had the jury really bought the "Twinkie defense"? White's lawyers had contended that the former supervisor was depressed and had been binging on junk food, hence should win a reduced verdict of "voluntary manslaughter" because of "diminished capacity."

Thousands gathered in the Castro/Upper Market area and marched downtown. Many others rushed to Civic Center Plaza from wherever we had been working. We were angry. And we were frightened. Did this verdict mean that police officers, some of whom had fundraised for White's defense, could simply kill a "homo" with impunity? It certainly seemed that way.

And so, the crowd was not about to just listen to speakers. Besides, no one could be heard amid the shouting. First the City Hall facade was attacked; ornamental iron work which people pulled off with bare hands made great weapons for breaking glass. Then police cars lined up on the north side of Civic Center Plaza began to go up in flames; we made quite a nice little bonfire.

I wrote up the ensuing melee for the Lesbian Tide, a journal out of Los Angeles with national aspirations. I think I even got paid. Here's that story:

1 comment:

Mary said...

It seems things were starting to change and turn around for the better for our country in equality and inclusion....
But now we are slipping back into the dark ages on many fronts..and authoritarian power in the White House is growing by leaps and bounds.
I find it all so depressing...seems hopeless at times

Related Posts with Thumbnails