“Let Us Not be a Community Who Says, ‘We got ours so fuck you.'”

Gregory Gadow gave me his kind permission to repost his very incisive Facebook post here. This is so important.

A friend of mine made a very good point. Thanks, Calvin Hipps!

Dan White murdered San Francisco mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978. Charged with two counts of first degree murder, he was eventually convicted on two counts of “voluntary manslaughter,” the lightest possible sentence given the evidence. It was later shown that the jury gave him that sentence because A) White had been a SF police officer, and thus jurors presumed that he was acting against evil-doers, and B) because Supervisor Milk was an openly gay man.

When the verdict was handed down on the afternoon of May 21, 1979, the gay community went ballistic. San Francisco’s gay community had long been a target of SFPD’s bigotry, and many saw this verdict as police literally getting away with murdering community members. What originally started as an angry but peaceful protest quickly changed when the police tried to stop the demonstration. Police were attacked, and damage was done to SF government buildings. After several hours, the rioting subsided.

Black and white image shows a ghostly building with high windows and balconies in the background. There is a line of skinny trees whose trunks end in a puff of branches. Below the trees is a line of silhouetted figures standing in a line. The scene is lit by a streetlamp whose light seems to be diffused by smoke or mist.
Rioters outside San Francisco City Hall the evening of May 21, 1979, reacting to the voluntary manslaughter verdict for Dan White, that ensured White would serve only five years for the double murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. Image and caption courtesy Daniel Nicoletta (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Then the police staged a massive round of retaliatory raids in the Castro District. Cops in riot gear swarmed into gay bars and assaulted patrons, without even a pretext of claiming the mantle of law.

Sound like anything in recent events?

The White Night riots had an immediate impact on the city. Supervisor Diane Feinstein was elected mayor to replace Moscone. One of her first actions as mayor was to fire the Chief of Police that escalated the protests into riots and ordered the retaliation, and replace him with Cornelius Murphy, who like Feinstein supported the cause of LGBT rights. While SFPD still has a lot of problems, they were the first police force in the United States to take action at ending the official persecution of gay people.

When I hear gay people squawking about how “all lives matter!” or how “blue lives matter!” I get pissed. Very, very pissed. OUR OWN HISTORY shows what happens when a minority is victimized by law enforcement: they continue to be victimized until people stand up, cry out, and start pushing back.

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬, just as gay lives matter. In the 80s, our straight allies heard us and worked with us to correct the reasons why we were so angry. Today, it is our job as white allies to hear PoC and work with them to correct the reasons why they are so angry. Many of us remember what things were like for LGBT people just a generation ago: let us not be a community who says, “We got ours so fuck you.”

Image has white text on a black background saying Black Lives Matter.

“Let Us Not be a Community Who Says, ‘We got ours so fuck you.'”

3 thoughts on ““Let Us Not be a Community Who Says, ‘We got ours so fuck you.'”

  1. 3

    Thanks for reposting Gregory’s comment, Dana.
    And thanks, Gregory, for writing it (I’d have thanked you on FB, but my timeout is still in effect), as I’d previously never heard of the White Night Riots.

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