The WHITE NIGHT RIOTS were a series of events stemming from the sentencing of Dan White, which was deemed lenient by many, for the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, an openly Gay City Supervisor of San Francisco. White, a former policeman, firefighter and himself a former San Francisco City Supervisor, was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder, a ruling that was seen as controversial to many in San Francisco’s Gay community.
The protest began on May 21, 1979 as a peaceful march from the Castro District to City Hall. As soon as the sentence was announced, word ran through the Gay community and groups of people began walking to the Civic Center where City Hall was located, and by approximately 8:00 PM a sizable crowd had formed. According to the documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk, the crowd began screaming at police officers calling for revenge and death.