Harvey Milk was born on Thursday 22nd May 1930, and was assassinated on Monday 27thNovember 1978.
Every year we celebrate Harvey Milk, remember what he did and the horrific aftermath of his death in the Castro District of San Francisco.
Harvey Milk was a man beyond his time. He was a man of the people.
Milk was born in Woodmere, New York but moved to the Castro District of San Francisco in 1972.
In his eleven months in office, Milk sponsored a bill to ban discrimination in public accommodation, housing and employment based on Sexual Orientation.
The bill was passed – 11 to 1 – and was signed into law by Mayor Moscone.
Unfortunately, Harvey didn’t get to see the good he did. On Monday, 27th November 1978 Daniel “Danny” White murdered both Harvey and Mayor Moscone.
Daniel pleaded guilty using what is now known as the “Twinkie” Defence.
When the announcement came through of the Jury’s verdict on White’s case, a riot broke out – White had been given a seven-year sentence on voluntary manslaughter charges. Over three thousand rioters were on the streets, outside City Hall, protesting the verdict – chanting “Avenge Harvey Milk” and “He Got Away With Murder”. These riots are now known as the White Night Riots.
In response to the rioting, the police chief ordered the police not to retaliate but to hold their ground. Later that evening, several police cruisers filled with officers in riot gear arrived at the Elephant Walk Bar in Castro Street, where Milk had attended and was always filled with LGBT+ Members. The police raided and beat patrons at random, before leaving the bar and attacking people on the street. The chief of police later ordered the officers to leave the area.
61 police officers and over 100 rioters and gay residents of Castro had been hospitalised.
This day is reserved to remember the good Harvey did, but also to remember the injustice and brutality that the LGBT+ faced after his death.