Tomorrow will mark the 30th anniversary of the White Night Riots. The San Francisco riots exploded on the night of May 21, 1979 in retaliation to the lenient sentencing of Dan White, for the cold blooded assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay San Francisco Supervisor, Harvey Milk. After hearing of the verdict Cleve Jones, Milk’s trusted friend and activist, organized a protest march down Castro Street to City Hall with shouts of “Out of the bars and into the streets!” The protest march had increased to over 5,000 people by the time they reached City Hall. The police officers on duty were stunned by the sheer size and outright anger exhibited by the marchers. Most police officers had become accustomed to seeing homosexuals act in a docile manner, often walking quietly into the paddy wagons during police raids on gay bars. Seeing an angry crowd of thousands of gay citizens literally baying for their blood was something entirely new. It was the first time the San Francisco police department had witnessed such a violent reaction from the LGBT community. Full blown rioting (as well as a retaliatory police raid on a gay bar) would ensue later that evening with hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and over 140 people injured. It is a dark and angry moment in our history but one that led to increased political power and activism within the gay community.
Related: An as of yet unconfirmed rumor has it that The California Supreme Court will announce their ruling on Prop 8 tomorrow. Is the Court aware of the White Night Riots anniversary – and that Harvey Milk’s birthday is on Friday – or will this turn out to be a case of really bad timing? (via JoeMyGod).