A former police officer’s tale about the 1979 White Night riots in San Francisco shows a disturbing pattern when you have a Leftist police chief or mayor.
I spoke yesterday with a friend, a former San Francisco police officer, who told me something very interesting about the White Night riots that devastated San Francisco in May 1979. I remember the riots well, as I lived in the City at the time, but the behind-the-scene details were fascinating and illuminating. Here’s what I learned:
George Moscone became the Mayor of San Francisco in 1976. Today, he would be called a Progressive. Back then, he was simply a Democrat who represented the electorate’s shift away from the old-fashioned, working- and middle-class Democrats who once had a say in San Francisco politics.
One of Moscone’s first tasks as mayor was to appoint a new Chief of Police. Traditionally, police chiefs came from within the ranks of the San Francisco Police Department, which was a solidly working- and middle-class organization with conservative social views, that was just branching out into having women and minorities serve.
Moscone, however, bypassed the SFPD when looking for a new chief and, instead, appointed Charles Gain, an African-American who had been serving as Chief of Police in Oakland. At the time, Gain was widely perceived as being extremely “liberal” — as the Left defines that word, rather than the classical definition.
When he became Chief, Gain decided that the SFPD needed an image overhaul. He therefore ordered that all police vehicles should be painted baby blue, so as to appear less threatening. The police officers, when driving around in their light blue paddy wagons likened themselves to a diaper delivery service. Gain was also extremely supportive of gays, something that didn’t sit well with traditional police officers.
Given Moscone’s and Gain’s Progressive politics, it’s scarcely surprising that Dan White, an elected supervisor who was an old-fashioned, working class San Francisco conservative, would clash with them. Eventually, White announced that he was retiring as Supervisor.
Conservative elements in the City, including police officers, begged White to reconsider, so he asked for his old job back. However, the Progressives on the Board of Supervisors, including Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in America, lobbied against his reinstatement, so that they could get a firm lock on Leftist politics in San Francisco. Moscone had no problem with this agenda and refused White’s request to be reinstated.
White was extremely distraught. Unfortunately, his wife, who might have provided emotional ballast for him at this time, was out of town. So it was that Dan White sneaked into City Hall on November 11, 1978 and assassinated both Moscone and Milk. Most San Franciscans were saddened but gay San Franciscans were completely devastated. An icon had died.
Things became infinitely worse in May 1979, when Dan White was found guilty only of voluntary manslaughter, rather than First Degree Murder (which carried with it the death penalty). The verdict came about thanks in large part to what was derisively called “the Twinkie defense.” White’s attorney had found a psychiatrist who would testify that White ate so much junk food, especially Hostess Twinkies, that he suffered from diminished capacity.
After Milk died, his constituents from San Francisco’s predominantly gay Castro District mourned. After Dan White was acquitted, they got angry, very, very angry. Immediately after the verdict become public, a crowd of about 500 members of the LGBT community (or gays, as they were then called, regardless of gender or predilections) promptly gathered in the Castro District and, in response to activist Cleve Jones, began to call others out of the bars and restaurants to join them. Eventually 1,500 people headed on foot from Castro Street to City Hall.
The protesters picked up more people along the way, until a group 5,000 strong descended on the plaza in front of City Hall. Wikipedia reports that Dianne Feinstein, who had become mayor by default after Moscone’s assassination (which launched her on the national stage), was unsure what to do. That, according to the police officer to whom I spoke, is true. However, what is not true is that the Police Chief was also befuddled and unable to act.
According to the police officer giving me an insider’s version of events, the police were given specific orders to “stand down.” Without any active policing, it was inevitable that this churning, growing mob would become violent. Marchers broke windows at City Hall, attacked police officers and their police cars, and eventually, in true mob fashion, began destroying everything they could.
It’s not to their credit that a group of police officers who were not friendly to gays later that same night went against Chief Gain’s orders and raided a gay bar, sparking new riots. Having said so, it’s also not surprising that they carried out that raid. The original riots, in addition to staggering property damage, had injured 61 officers, some quite badly, as well as 100 other people.
Things have changed a great deal in the SFPD since then. Heather Fong, who was San Francisco’s police chief from 2004 to 2008, was openly lesbian. The SFPD routinely has a sizable LGBTQ etc. contingent in the Gay Pride Parade. And of course, the SFPD stands idly by during the Up Your Alley Fair or the Folsom Street Fair, when people openly engage in sex and BDSM activities on San Francisco street. (For the Up Your Alley Fair link, please be warned that the content is sexually explicit.)
Having shared with you the police officer’s view of events, I want to focus on one fact that came to light: That’s the claim police officer’s claim that the Leftist police chief, while he did send officers to the rapidly swelling march on City Hall, he also told them to stand down. Does that sound familiar? It should:
- In April 2015, when rioters took the streets of Baltimore to protest Freddie Gray’s death, the police were told to stand down. Progressive mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake famously (or infamously) stated openly, “We gave those who wished to destroy space to do that.”
- In February 2017, when violent rioters stopped Milo Yiannapoulos from speaking on the Berkeley campus and then took to the streets, although the cops assembled, they did not act. Subsequent orders were that they were told to stand down. It came to light later that Berkeley’s mayor was a member of an Antifa Facebook group.
- In August 2017, in Charlottevilles, Virginia, after fascists from the Left and fascists from the Right clashed, leading a schizophrenic to use a car as a weapon, it emerged that the Democrat mayor had given the police orders to stand down — even though it was apparent that both sides in this pond scum protest came ready to do violence.
Do you see a pattern? I do. To may way of thinking, four iterations of Leftist politicians specifically telling police not to keep order constitutes a pattern. I’m also willing to bet that, using the power of crowd sourcing, you can think of other times when Progressive mayors or police chiefs, faced with manifestly inflammatory circumstances, nevertheless ordered the police to stand down, guaranteeing mayhem. When you have a pattern like this, there are two explanations: Either all Progressive city leaders are mindless drones who coincidentally all think alike . . . or you have a deliberate plan to sow chaos in America.
As a coda to all of this, Dan White served five years of his seven-year sentence. Less than two years after his release from prison, he committed suicide. Because he had served honorably in the Army during the Vietnam War, he is buried in the military cemetery in San Bruno, south of San Francisco.