A Tragic Week

  • by reprint from the December 6, 1978 edition of the Bay Area Reporter
  • Sunday November 27, 2022
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Photo: Bay Area Reporter archives
Photo: Bay Area Reporter archives

The murder of Mayor George Moscone and Super­visor Harvey Milk brought forth thousands of mourners who moved about for days in a state of shock.

The November 27 tragedy was particularly evi­dent to the Gay community, which lost its two most impor­tant friends and advocates in city government within a few minutes of one another. This is what transpired:

Supervisor Dan White, a macho personality who had achieved recognition in sports and as a paratrooper, resigned from the Board of Supervisors after announcing the pressure of his personal problems.

When he attempted to rescind his resignation, Mayor George Moscone chose someone else. Supervisor Milk had become the most public supervisor about his opposition to White's being appointed, primarily be­cause of White's lone and con­sistent anti-Gay record on the Board.

Dan White left his home in mid-morning on November 27. Climbing through a basement window at City Hall, he pro­ceeded to the mayor's cham­bers and killed him. Within minutes he walked to the supervisor's chambers where he killed Milk. Both men were killed "execution style" with the fatal bullets being shot into the back of their heads as they lay on the floor. White surrendered to police shortly after­wards at nearby Northern Police Station.

Thousands of Gay people began to congregate on Castro Street during the day as news of the tragedy spread. One uni­formed police officer was observed helping a young male place a black crepe streamer across 18th and Castro. By evening Castro was blocked with 40,000 mourners who marched through the city to the Civic Center where they were addressed by then-Acting Mayor Dianne Feinstein and heard the singing of Joan Baez. The march received national attention.

Many Gay people were unable to go to their places of employment as they felt the extreme sorrow. Mourners re­dedicated themselves to "come out" as Milk had often demanded and to continue to work for Gay social and legal rights. Memorial services for both Moscone and Milk were attended by thousands of Gay people.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors named the Yerba Buena development after the fallen mayor and voted its unanimous approval of a federally-funded Gay Community Center, named the Harvey Milk Memorial Center.

This article was originally printed in the December 7, 1978 edition of the Bay Area Reporter.

Archives from 1971-2005 are available from the main page of our website at www.ebar.com

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