San Francisco is
in flux. Piers that once held freight now hold tourist attractions. Downtown
develops as a corporate headquarters, and white-collar jobs open up. Blue-collar
jobs are lost, out-numbered by service-industry jobs. Working-class neighborhoods,
both black and Irish Catholic, deteriorate. San Francisco’s homosexual
community grows strong and becomes a mecca for thousands of gays from across
the country. Many settle in one of the city’s changing neighborhoods, along
Office seekers adapt to the
realignment of political power.
Two young women try to kill
November 4, 1975
A coalition of racial minorities,
labor rank and file, and neighborhood activists breaks down the decades-long
control of City Hall by the Irish political machine. George Moscone is
Among the Mayor’s appointments
is the Reverend Jim Jones, whom Moscone names chairman of the city’s Housing
An attempt is made, with
a bomb, to kill Supervisor Dianne Feinstein.
An attempt is made, with
a bomb, to kill District Attorney Joseph Freitas.
Dan White decides to run
for Supervisor from District 8, a heavily Catholic working-class neighborhood
in southeast San Francisco. White is a native San Franciscan, a high school
sports star, a Vietnam vet, an ex-police officer, and a fireman. He adopts
the theme from "Rocky" as his campaign song. A prime issue in White’s campaign
is his opposition to a home for juvenile offenders located in his district.
Harvey Milk, a small businessman
and leader of the Castro gay community, runs for Supervisor in District
5. Milk is a native New Yorker and part of the recent gay migration to
November 8, 1977
Harvey Milk, "The Mayor of
Castro Street," wins a seat on the Board of Supervisors. He is the first
openly gay elected official in the United States. Dan White, who in his
campaign had pledged to "eradicate the malignancies which blight our beautiful
city," also wins election to the Board.
A Board of Supervisors committee,
chaired by White, meets to consider Milk’s first legislative proposal:
a ban against all forms of discrimination against gays in the city. The
committee votes 3-0 to recommend approval to the full Board. The following
Monday, the Board considers whether or not to approve the Juvenile Home.
White believes he has Milk’s support to give him the 6-5 majority he needs
to close the Home. When the vote is taken, however, Milk votes for the
Home, and the issue White had campaigned on is defeated by one vote. When
the gay rights legislation is brought up before the entire Board, a week
later, White is the one supervisor to vote against it.
Harvey Milk campaigns statewide
against the Briggs Initiative, a ballot proposition championed by archconservative
State Senator John Briggs, which would ban homosexuals from teaching in
California schools. Dan White contributes $100 to Milk’s anti-Briggs campaign,
saying "Everyone has the right to earn a living."
Harassed by press investigations
into irregularities at the People’s Temple, Jim Jones moves his congregation
to Jonestown, the jungle refuge he is building in Guyana.
Tuesday, November 7
The Briggs Initiative is
defeated. Another initiative, sponsored by Briggs, Proposition 7, passes.
Proposition 7 enacts a tougher death penalty and includes a clause invoking
an automatic death penalty for anyone convicted of murdering a public official.
Milk and Moscone strongly opposed Proposition 7. White supported its passage.
Friday, November 10
Dan White resigns from the
Board of Supervisors, citing financial difficulties as the reason. Harvey
Milk extracts a promise from Mayor Moscone that White’s replacement will
be sympathetic to the needs of the gay community.
Tuesday, November 14
Challenged by his disappointed
aides and supporters, White reconsiders his decision. He calls Moscone
and asks for his resignation back.
Wednesday, November 15
Moscone meets with White
and tells him that as long as there are no legal impediments he will consider
the resignation rescinded. He adds that if there is a legal question, he
will simply reappoint White to the Board. White goes to the City Attorney’s
office to ask about the legal question and overhears a phone call from
Harvey Milk asking for the same information.
Congressman Leo Ryan arrives
in Guyana to investigate a constituent’s charges that his grandson is being
held in Jonestown against his will.
Thursday, November 16
Dan White appears at a public
rally organized to oppose his reappointment to the Board. He fails to win
the crowd to his side and is literally booed off the stage. Hearing of
this, Moscone begins to have second thoughts about reappointing White.
Saturday, November 18
The City Attorney tells Moscone
that White cannot rescind his resignation; it is up to the Mayor to reappoint
him. Moscone tells White he needs concrete proof of support for White from
the citizens of District 8.
Sunday, November 19
Congressman Ryan is killed
in Guyana and the first news of the massacre reaches San Francisco.
Tuesday, November 21
White’s aides seek a temporary
restraining order to prevent the Mayor from appointing someone else.
The body count in Guyana
tops 500. Rumors of a People’s Temple hit squad are given credence by the
police. Security measures are implemented by City Hall.
Thursday, November 23
Thanksgiving. Moscone receives
two death threats connected with the People’s Temple.
Friday, November 24
Moscone learns that the restraining
order has been turned down in court. He is free to appoint whom he wants.
The body count in Guyana
is up to 780.
Saturday, November 25
Moscone offers Dan Horanzy
the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors. Horanzy asks for time
to consider. White hears the rumor that someone will be appointed to his
seat on Monday.
Sunday, November 26
The morning paper puts the
body count in Guyana at 910.
Horanzy calls Moscone to
accept the seat. Moscone tells him to be at City Hall for a press conference
That evening, White receives
a phone call from KCBS News asking for his reaction to Moscone’s decision
to appoint someone else to his seat.
Monday, November 27
Dan White enters the Mayor’s
office in City Hall and shoots George Moscone four times. He reloads his
gun, enters the Supervisor’s office, and shoots Harvey Milk five times.
He meets his wife Mary Ann at St. Mary’s Cathedral, then surrenders to
the police. That evening a tremendous crowd moves down Market Street from
the Castro district in a candlelight procession and gathers outside City
Diane Feinstein, as President
of the Board of Supervisors, becomes Acting Mayor.
May 1, 1979
The trial of Dan White, on
two counts of first-degree murder, begins.
May 21, 1979
Dan White is convicted of
two counts of the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter. Maximum sentence:
seven years and eight months. A mob of thousands, led by the city’s gay
community, attacks City Hall, shattering windows and burning police cars.
150 are injured. Later that night, the police riot on Castro Street, clubbing
down homosexuals on the sidewalks and in the gay bars.
Dianne Feinstein is elected
Mayor of San Francisco.
The California penal code
is amended to prevent arguing the "diminished capacity" defense, which
attorney Douglas Schmidt used in the trial of Dan White.
January 6, 1984
Dan White is paroled from
Soledad Prison. He begins life outside in Los Angeles.
October 21, 1985
Dan White is found dead of
carbon monoxide poisoning, an apparent suicide, at his wife’s home in San
Adapted from program notes
for the Empty Space and Center Stage productions.
" — and if you’re not good
directly," she added, "I’ll put you through into Looking-glass House. How
would you like that?
"Now, if you’ll only attend,
Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about the Looking-glass
House. First, there’s the room you can see through the glass that’s just
the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way."