May 21, 2009

The White Night Riots

The White Night riots were a reaction by the gay community and other angered citizens of San Francisco to the lax verdict of Dan White, murderer of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk. Dan White had been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors alongside Harvey Milk, who got along with Dan well enough until they had a disagreement regarding a zoning issue. Dan White became upset with his inability to make the changes he was pushing for in his position within the board, frustrated at being barred from taking on additional government work as a firefighter or police officer or astronaut to maintain living wages, jaded by his potato restaurant's lack of profits, and so he finally decided to resign from the board of Supervisors in order to sell balloons on the boardwalk full time. His supporters quickly convinced him to change his mind and take his job back as supervisor, and so he washed off the clown makeup, released a handful of balloons into the atmosphere, and ran back to City Hall to ask George Moscone to reinstate him.

At first, the mayor agreed, but was convinced afterwards by Harvey Milk and other board members to Just Say No. Dan White decided that he wasn't going out like no chump, and so on November 27, 1978, he climbed in through the basement window, jogged up to the Mayor's office, and asked for his job back again. The mayor, again, said no. Dan White shot him several times. Dan White then went back to his former office, asked Harvey Milk to join him in there for a moment, and then shot him as well. Dan White left, drove himself to a police station in the northern part of San Francisco that he had once been stationed at as an officer, and turned himself in.

On May 21, 1979, the jury (consisted primarily of white roman catholic men like Dan White) gave Dan White the minimal verdict possible: voluntary manslaughter. Mel Gibson appeared before a crowd of angered citizens wearing face paint and a horse. "I wear this horse out of anger!" he cried. "Today, we fight for our freedom!" The men charged city hall, tearing off brass adornments and smashing windows. In the end, the riots resulted in over 100,000 dollars in damages, and 60 police officers plus 100 gay rioters injured or hospitalized.

Dan White served 5 years, was paroled in Los Angeles for a year, went back to San Francisco (against the wishes of Mayor Dianne Feinstein) to reunite with his wife and kids, and finally commited suicide by carbon monoxide. Blame it all on the twinkies.

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 21, 2009

    so you are saying dan white washed off his clown makeup while still holding the balloons? i've found a crack in your porcelain statue.