Singer Holly Near leads ‘We Are A Gentle And Loving People,’ the song Near sang almost 30 years ago on the candlelit night of Supervisor Harvey Milk’s murder.
Photos by Bill Wilson
BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
Despite being in a town that spawned assassin Dan White, we’re all very lucky to live in San Francisco, Tom Ammiano said last night, his voice breaking.
Supervisor Ammiano is among those who were close to Harvey Milk, first openly LGBT official elected in San Francisco.
Ammiano, along with former Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver who sat between Supervisors White and Milk on chamber floor of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, headlined the 29th annual remembrance of the murders of Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
District 9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano
“It’s very emotional to hear Carol because she was around,” recalled Ammiano.
“I even got the chills when she said which chair everybody sat in.
“Thirty years is a very long time. I don’t think that Dan White could ever get elected again in that District so there is some progress.
“We’re making a movie about Harvey Milk’s life and we’re going to trust in Gus Van Sant that the movie is honest and very open and reflective of who Harvey Milk was, and still is in each of us, and what is the context that his life was all about.
“So I guess what I’m saying is that Harvey Milk’s life was not a movie — Harvey himself was a movie.
“Someone said ‘how Buddhist of me’ — that is progress from the 70s.
“I’m always glad when people turn out for this event. It’s always a little bitter sweet.
“I always see new people and that gives me a little hope that Harvey always talked about.
“We’re all really, really lucky in a world that’s upside down, we’re all really, really lucky to live here in San Francisco.”
Carol Ruth Silver recalled marching from what is now known as Harvey Milk Plaza to City Hall the night of the assassinations.
“I marched from here down to City Hall with some of you who are here today and with many of my friends to commemorate the fact that Harvey Milk and George Moscone, my good friends, had been killed by Dan White,” Silver related.”
Carol Ruth Silver, who spoke at San Francisco City Hall on what became known as the White Night Riot began to stir, taking a rock in the mouth thrown at City Hall. She carries an upper lip scar from the incident.
“Dan White was a Supervisor. He sat on my left,” Silver noted.
“He sat in the chair next to my chair.
“I was a Supervisor and Harvey Milk sat in the chair on my right.
“And it was my function as a member of this set of three Supervisors to try to bring together Harvey and Dan into some kind of legislative coalition so that we could pass good legislation.
“Harvey and I proposed rent control. Dan opposed it.
“Harvey and I proposed the first legislation in any place in the country that we were aware of that prohibited discrimination against gay people in employment.
“Dan opposed it.
“And it’s difficult to know today why it was that Dan White killed Harvey Milk and George Moscone.”
Handcuffed Dan White, left
“There are many reasons. He resigned and Moscone would not reappoint him,” continued Silver.
“But the real essence of why Dan White was unhappy on the Board was because of a project that he had promised his constituency out in the Excelsior that he would prevent from coming into their neighborhood.
“And why would he prevent it?
“Because it would have gay people, it would have drug abusers, it would be a place where rehabilitation would occur.
“When Harvey and I and five other members of the Board of Supervisors said, ‘we will allow that project to go forward, we will not stop it,’ it was then that Dan White saw himself as a failure.
“In fact, saw himself as the failure that he had always been.
“I can only say that it was a great tragedy, was then and is today, that neither Harvey Milk nor George Moscone were able to fulfill the political careers that they were elected to serve.
“I am very proud to be here 29 years later.
“Twenty-nine years later that I don’t think there is a single year… in which I have not been here on this corner eventually marching with a candle in my hand marching in memorial to Harvey Milk and George Moscone.
“Thank you for being here with me and giving me the opportunity to be part of this celebration of the life of Harvey Milk, a celebration of the life of George Moscone.”
Krissy Keefer, left, organizer of march and entertainmment commemorating 29th anniversary of Harvey Milk death. San Francisco Commissioner Debra Walker seen in background with Milk memorial placard, and Walter Parenteau, center. Crowd stands before Castro Street location of San Francisco Supervisor Milk’s photo shop.
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past ten years. Pat scribes an offbeat view of the human family through Believe It or What.
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past three years.
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