tv Second Look FOX November 24, 2013 11:00pm-11:31pm PST
s. ♪ ♪ let's go! ♪ that's my kind of holiday. up next on a second look. >> both mayor masconi and supervisor harvey milk have been shot and killed. >> the nation that changed the course of san francisco history. the killings took two lives, started a riot and catapulted the career of the woman who steped in to fill in the void in the wake of the violence. all that straight ahead on a second look. good evening and welcome to a
second look. i'm julie haener. this thursday mark as grim anniversary in the history of san francisco. and in the history of the gay rights movement. it was 35 years ago that former supervisor dan white entered city hall and shot and killed mayor george masconi and supervisor harvey milk. in 1998 on the 20th anniversary of those assassinations, dennis richmond had a look back at those days and san francisco politics. >> reporter: on november 27th, 1998, the bay area was still reeling on the events in jones town where 75 people had lost their lives. we thought nothing that wrenching could happen that soon and we were wrong.
>> both mayor masconi and supervisor milk have been shot and killed. the suspect is supervisor dan white. >> reporter: the bay area was reeling again. this time over the assassination of two of san francisco's most prominent elected officials. >> it was incomprehensible. it was incomprehensible. and dan white as a killer was incomprehensible. so, when i went out to make the announcement, i felt i mean it was like i wasn't in this world. i wasn't in the world i knew i was in some other world. >> reporter: george masconi the city's liberal major who had won election by a razor thin margin. masconi had just finished the week celebrating his birthday.
dan white had been a san francisco cop, san francisco firefighter, had just days earlier resigned as city supervisor to run his restaurant the hot potato and wanted his seat back which dan learned harvey had given the seat to someone else. >> the mayor councilled the city county to stay you would be foolish not to get someone who would vote with you. dan apparently overhead a conversation and i think that partially set him off. i don't know but over 20 years i thought a lot about it and this is actually my belief. >> reporter: dan white left home that morning to confront george masconi after learning he was going to appoint someone else to his old seat.
before leaving home, he loaded his old police rifle. moments later masconi was dead and white headed for milk's office passing dianne feinstein on the way. >> all of a sudden the door opened and dan swept right by me and i said dan can you stop. and he said no i have to do something. >> he was on his way to see harvey. >> he was on his way to see harvey. i heard the door slam. i heard the shots. anddidn't know what they were. and i smelled the gun powder and dan quickly walked by me and said not now. and was out the door. >> reporter: a short while later white turned himself in to his old friend police inspector frank falzone. he made this confession on tape it was the only time the jury would hear his voice. >> he was talking and, nothing was getting through to me.
it was just like a roaring in my ear. nothing was registered. what was i going to do now how this was going to affect my family. and it just, just all the time you know, just all the time going out to the press and tell they will that i was not a good supervisor and that people didn't want me. and then that was it. and i just shot him. >> reporter: after shooting masconi, dan white walked to the city council's chambers, pausing shortly at his old office to reload. >> he knew, he knew, i wasn't going to be reappointed.
as if he knew. then i got all flushed and i shot him. >> reporter: mascon was later accused of being soft on interviewing his old buddy. jurors wept during the playing of white's confession. they deliberated for several days and when they returned the verdict it was not first degree murder but voluntary manslaughter. dan white would spend only five years in prison on october 21st 1986 less than eight years after he shot masconi and milk, dan white walked into his garage, started the motor of his car and took his own life. the events had now gone full circle. masconi's pictures in sharp contrast when he took his life. his body sat lifeless for
hours. no longer could a criminal defendant count on white's twinkie defense or diminished defense. harvey milk who once predicted his own murder would become a legacy to the lgbt community. still to come on a second look, from verdict to violence. how the jury's suspicion in the dan white case led to riots in the streets of san francisco. a bit later, pultzer prize winning author examines the history of san francisco's gay politics. [ female announcer ] welcome one and all to a tastier festive feast.
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the assassinations of san francisco's major george masconi and supervisor harvey milk. in the hours that followed the verdict in the case of the man who shot them the streets of san francisco exploded in violence as the anger grew to rage. >> reporter: it was a night burned into bay area history a night that helped sweep in change. a night no one out there in san francisco city hall could easily forget. >> it almost felt like you were in some level of help. because you had the flames on one side. you had breaking glass on the other. you had this surging ebbing crowd. >> reporter: it's what's come to be known as the white night riot. an angry spasm after the verdict of an excop, exfireman exsupersraoeup sor named dan white who shot to death the city's mayor and pioneering gay
supervisor -- exsuper visor named dan white who shot to death the city's major and pioneering gay supervisor. >> reporter: a teacher and gay activist 20 years ago, today he's the president of the san francisco board of supervisors. a jury on may 21st 1979 called those killings manslaughter. within minutes an angry call gathered at the castro district. >> there's those who think that dan white is a disgusting pathetic little nothing. that there's not a little bit of a shame. never been a shame before to be a san franciscan. >> reporter: by 7:15 several hundred people had arrived at san francisco's city hall. dianne feinstein was now mayor. >> i was home. i turned on the radio and i heard people gathering at city
hall and there were certain signs of unrest. some rocks had been thrown. so i returned to city hall. and watched this crowd transfix into a mob. >> reporter: the crowd smashed city hall windows. someone torched a police car. then another, soon nine cop cars were ablaze sirens whaling. police officers with orders not to further insight the demonstration became targets. in the castro district, a group of so called rogue cops broke
into a gay bar. in two hours it's anger spent. the next day would be the late harvey mill's birthday celebration but the fires of determination continued to burn among activists. >> in some ways it was bigger than george and harvey milk because it set the stage for other things to come for the gay community becoming very enpowered. >> reporter: many say those days helped san francisco. dianne feinstein's career flourished she went on to the u.s. senate but says nothing good can come of assassination. >> i think the one positive thing was that it we knew we had to heal. and the positive thing was that we could heal. we could recover. >> i knew milk, i'm actually in this building where all this happened. i was part of that movement.
something that will always be with me. >> reporter: and with many who say those dark times will serve as a reminder forever that politics should be about building not destroying. when we come back, on a second look. pulitzer prize winning author on the history of san francisco. plus dianne feinstein talks about the course that changed her political career and what she did to heal the city. i love watching tv outside.
and why can you move the tv out here? the wireless receiver. i got that when i switched to u-verse. but why? because it's so much better than cable. it's got more hd channels, more dvr space. yeah, but i mean, how did you know? i researched. no, i-i told you. no. yeah! no. the important part is that you're happy now. and i got you this visor. you made a visor! yes! that i'll never wear. ohh.
[ male announcer ] get u-verse tv for just $19 a month for two years with qualifying bundles. rethink possible. tonight on a second look, the 35th anniversary of the assassinations of san francisco mayor george masconi. gay activist randy shiltz wrote a biography of harvey milk. he prepared this report on the
history of political activism in the gay community in san francisco. just a few days after the riots that followed the verdict in the case of dan white. the man who killed masconi and milk. >> beginning in their early 70s, gay hippies moved from the hay ash barry to castro street. they opened businesses and bought up the historians. >> boys go to bed with boys and girl tkpwos -- girls go to bed with girls and some go to bed with both and nobody says a thing. >> the birth of the nation's most concentrated gay neighborhood also feel that the contributions of harvey milk. he ran for supervisor in 1973
and pulled an impressive 200,000 votes. now the issues no longer weren't whether they could go to gay bars and dance instead gays pushed for civil rights. since gays produced votes politicians produced results. in 1975 the state legislature sroeut -- the state legislature voted to legalize gay sexual acts so that gays would not be breaking the law when they made love. in return, masconi gave gays their first openly gay city commissioner harvey milk. anita bryant's success in repealing a gay rights ordnance in florida scared gays throughout the united states. when john briggs promised to
bring an anti gay campaign. san francisco gays got worried and militant. >> for all that politicians helped put in office gays had still very little to show for it. san francisco did not have a gay civil rights. had little plums that are dolled out to every minority group. so gays decided maybe their friends in city hall weren't doing enough and it was time to get their own gay supervisor. again that happened through political horse trading. politicians needed gay votes to win. so they made castro the middle of a gay super visoral district. four district elections in the city became law and by december 1977 gays had their own supervisor harvey milk. through bills like the pooper scooper ordnance he got rights
for gays. he forged alliances with labor and other minority groups during the fight against an anti teacher. on the night that gays beat that initialtive milk talked about the stakes of all of politicking. >> what i'm going to do is call for the gay community to come out. keep the education going. keep talking. talk to your relatives, friends and family so that you can find out about gay people. so we can once and for all live in harmony. >> gays seemed more powerful after winning that state election. just three weeks later everyone changed when dan white shot harvey milk and gay ally george masconi. by then the political game had changed so much that feinstein was called to appoint a gay to
milk's seat. but the gays would not be satisfied. feinstein may have been the first politician to court the gay vote. but gays thought she wasn't good enough. gays got angry when in sacramento a gay civil rights bill failed to make it out of sacramento committee. the gay anger exploded. when we come back on a second look. dianne feinstein says she was ready to retire from politics but trying to heal san francisco's divisions and grief after the assassinations of george masconi and harvey white gave her new purpose.
senators. and the first woman in the city judiciary committee. feinstein was first elected in 1972. shortly after she was elected to her second straight term. randy shandobil talked to her about her life in politics and the events that catapulted her into the limelight in the 1970s. >> reporter: the year was 1978, dianne feinstein delivered shocking news to the city. >> both mayor masconi and supervisor harvey milk have been shot and killed. the suspect is supervisor dan white. >> reporter: only an hour earlier feinstein had stopped by the press room at city hall and told the reporters there that she was about to retire. >> you were going to retire because? >> my husband died.
i was in my third term. i felt i had accomplished what i wanted to accomplish. and frankly, his death really knocked me for a loop. and i just didn't feel like i wanted to continue. >> reporter: but with the mayor and the first openly gay city supervisor assassinated she says she had a new sense of purpose. >> i made the decision that i didn't want assassination to succeed. therefor i was going to carry out george's mandate until i could become mayor on my own. >> reporter: did you ever feel threatened and uneasy about your own security? >> well. in the 70s i had been through those terrorists events a group called the new world liberation front. that had blown up certain pg & e substations. and had come after some members of the board of supervisors. i think there were three of us.
so they put a bomb at my home, which detonated but fortunately it had dropped below freezing at the detonation point and the plastic explosive that was in it didn't explode. it just detonated. >> reporter: after that attack feinstein a strong gun control advocate carried a concealed weapon when she walked to the hospital to visit her dying husband. >> there was so much hate in the city. that i decided that what i had to do was put the bricks together again. see in the course of doing it, it was a learning experience for me. and it sort of formulated my political philosophy. >> her moderate centrus political philosophy. the mayor decided to reach out. in the hours after dan white was found guilty of manslaughter not murder in the deaths of maconi and milk the
city erupted in violent protests. police were overwhelmed and were filmed beating people in a gay bar in the castro district. >> it was in those meetings as a matter of fact when somebody said, we have purple lesions appearing on the bodies of some of our people and we don't know what it is. >> the lesions were a carposi sarcoma linked with aids. san francisco became aware of a terrifying new decide. feinstein said she tried to teach other mayors what san francisco knew about aids but there was a problem. >> in those days mayors didn't want to hear about it they didn't want to confront the issue it was that taboo. >> reporter: the mayor was once again facing controversy once again in san francisco. she was forced to close the
public bathhouses where gay men met for unprotected sex. >> you can't get the points of contagion actually licensed by the city. it was wrong for the city to do. >> there was really no moderate answer on. >> no there was no moderate answer and we took a lot of flak. >> reporter: the city closed the bathhouses and linked with gun advocates to try to remove the mayor. the attempt failed. she has started a ban on semi automatic weapons. she ties her passion for gun control directly to the day that put her in the mayor's office. dianne feinstein returns to the capital this month a political
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