Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Whatever Happened to Dan White?

A few months back, inspired by the wonderful film, "Milk", I posted a blog that followed up on the life of Anita Bryant. For some time I have been thinking about doing a blog post about what became of supervisor Dan White, the man who murdered both Harvey Milk and former Mayor George Mascone.

I loved the movie "Milk", but I don't entirely agree with it's implications. I do not believe, for example, that Dan White was motivated by homophobia when he killed Harvey Milk.

When White was released from Soledad prison, where he served 5 measly years, he went to Los Angeles to live with one of his former cop friends. There he confessed to premeditated murder, telling his friend that:

"I really lost it. I was on a mission. I wanted four of them"


"Carol Ruth Silver was the biggest snake of the bunch. And Willie Brown. He was masterminding the whole thing"

The murder appears to have been motivated by his hatred of the lefty supervisors. You will notice that (then) supervisor Diane Feinstein didn't make Milk's bloody list.

After spending some time in L.A., White moved back to San Francisco. He eventually committed suicide in 1985 in his estranged wife's garage where he left the car engine on until he asphyxiated. In his suicide note he left multiple apologies about the trouble his suicide would cause, but left no apologies for the crimes he committed.

Last week the New York Times magazine did a piece about contenders for the gubernatorial race in California. Mayor Gavin Newsom was interviewed. This is how the article begins. It is one of those bizarre stories that make you want to laugh and cry at the same time:

"Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, has an emergency button under his desk that was installed 30 years ago after former City Supervisor Dan White entered City Hall through a window and fatally shot Mayor George Mascone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Not knowing what the button was for, Newsom kept pushing it on his first day in office, only to have three sheriffs rush in repeatedly.

Newsom says he has no had occasion to press the button since, although the mayor admits he is tempted to whenever meetings drag on or when he becomes bored, something that happens easily."

he whole thing


Apuleius Platonicus said...

Wow - fascinating stuff about White! It certainly seems pretty clear (now) that he was politically motivated.

Yvonne Rathbone said...

Hey, I saw that article on Newsom, too.

I don't know if you can tease the ultra-conservative crazy from the homophobic crazy in this case. I also wouldn't rule out some added racist crazy. It seems like a packaged deal in a lot of cases (and specifically in Dan White's case.)

Do you know the Twinkie factory in SF? It's right on 101 near the Van Ness exit. It used to have a big billboard that read, "Home of the Twinkie" but graffiti activists kept adding "defense." Then they changed it to "Home of Twinkies" but the activists just crossed out the 's' first. The last sign I saw there said, "Home of the HoHo."

wv: stsyn. 1) a popular brand of cowboy hat. 2) the Saint of Syn.

mamiel said...

OMGs never knew that about the Twinkie sign, but I find it hilarious. I have seen some wonderful alterations of billboards in SF. My favorite one was an ad for St. Pauli Girl beer, that had the buxom blonde mascot under the the heading "Bring a Girl Home". Under it street artist had added the phrase "be a dyke"