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. [Read more…]