In 1978 Dan White assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and out gay supervisor Harvey Mik. In January 1984 he was released from prison to serve the final year of his sentence on parole.
David Hunt describes the response.
In January 1984, five years after he gunned down San Francisco mayor George Moscone and openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall, Dan White walked out of Soledad State Prison to finish the remaining year of his sentence on parole.
White, a former police officer and city supervisor, successfully avoided a murder conviction by arguing that heavy consumption of junk food impaired his reasoning in the hours leading up to the shootings. Swayed by the so-called “Twinkie defense,” jurors convicted White of voluntary manslaughter.
As White’s release date approached, California corrections officials decided it would be best to let the high-profile convict serve his parole out of state. But their efforts were stymied as state after state turned them down. Nobody wanted Dan White.
In the end, they secretly transported White to Los Angeles and handed him over to the Los Angeles Police Department. He eventually took up residence in a rented apartment.
Outrage and Heartache
White’s parole sparked outrage in the gay and lesbian community, still mourning the loss of one of its most visionary leaders.
In San Francisco, civil rights attorney Mary Dunlap joined other gay and lesbian leaders at a protest in Union Square, where they denounced White’s lenient sentence as well as his lack of remorse for the brutal killings.
In a telephone interview for Pacifica Radio the day after the protest, Dunlap discussed the impact of the crime and the community’s anger and heartache.
Less than two years later, White killed himself in San Francisco. The act brought a sense of closure to the community, but little satisfaction. Gay activist Morris Kight spoke for many when he suggested that perhaps White felt remorse after all.
Both of these interviews have been preserved thanks to the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California.