The Dan White (Harvey Milk Murder) Trial: A Chronology
by Douglas O. Linder

Dan White being taken into custody following the murders of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone

May 22, 1930
Harvey Milk is born on Long Island, New York.
September 2, 1946
Dan White is born in Los Angeles County.
November 3, 1977 Dan White (on his first attempt) and Harvey Milk (on his third attempt) are both elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as Democrats, although White is socially conservative and Milk, a leading figure in San Francisco's gay community, quite the opposite.  White joins the Board after working both as a police officer and a firefighter in San Francisco.
November 1977
In the weeks following their election to the Board, Dan White and Harvey Milk appear together on a number of local talk shows.  They praise each other, and Milk tells friends that he thinks he will be able to work with the conservative White.
November 18, 1977
Fearing a possible assassination, Harvey Milk tape records his "political will."  Milk says, "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."
January 9, 1978
At his first board meeting as a newly-elected supervisor, Milk proposes a comprehensive ban on discrimination against gays in San Francisco.  At the same meeting, Diane Feinstein is elected president of the Board on a 6 to 5 vote (Milk voted against Feinstein and for a minority candidate.)  The 6-5 vote generally reflects a conservative/liberal split on the Board.
April 1978 Dan White and Harvey Milk clash over a facility for juvenile offenders proposed for White's district.  White strongly opposes the facility, while Milk supports it.
May 21, 1978
On the day before Milk's last birthday, he dresses in a clown costume and runs up to cable cars, shaking the hands of random tourists and declaring, "Hey, I'm a supervisor. I pass laws.  I run this city."  He later attends a series of political events, still dressed in his clown costume.
June 25, 1978
San Francisco's Gay Freedom Day Parade is attended by a crowd estimated in size from 350,00 to 375,000.  At City Hall, Milk delivers a speech attacking the proposed Briggs Initiative (which would make it unconstitutional in California to extend civil rights protections based on sexual orientation), which he says will "constitutionalize bigotry."
Summer 1978
Dan White falls into a depressed state.  Symptoms of his depression include insomnia, giving up his exercise schedule, and eating a less healthy diet. (The latter symptom gave rise to the press's later description of White's diminished capacity defense as "the twinkie defense.  There actually was no evidence presented that White actually ate a twinkie.)
November 7, 1978
On election night, the Briggs Inititiave is easily defeated (2 to 1 against) and gays celebrate in San Francisco.
November 10, 1978
Dan White announces that he will resign his post as supervisor, thus allowing the mayor to appoint a new supervisor who could shift the 6-5 balance of power to the board's liberals.  Milk is ecstatic at the news of White's resignation.
November 18, 1978
Dan White says he has reconsidered his decision and asks to withdraw his resignation from the Board of Supervisors.  Mayor Moscone at first says, "A man has a right to change his mind," but later has second thoughts about reappointing White after being pressured by Harvey Milk.
November 26, 1978
On Sunday night, Dan White learns from a KCBS reporter that Mayor Moscone had decided not to reappoint him as supervisor.
November 27, 1978
After a sleepless night, Dan White enters City Hall through a lower story window and heads upstairs to the office of Mayor George Moscone.  White shoots and kills Moscone, then heads for Milk's office, where he kills him.  Milk dies at 10:55 A.M.  White surrenders to police.  White is charged with two counts of murder and held without bail.
January 8, 1979
Harry Britt, Jr., another gay activist, is appointed by Diane Feinstein to fill the seat left open by Milk's death.
January 1979
The preliminary hearing is held in the Dan White case.
May 1, 1979
The trial of Dan White opens.
May 11, 1979
The defense rests in the Dan White trial.
May 14, 1979
Summations begin in the Dan White trial.
May 21, 1979
After 36 hours of deliberation, the jury announces its verdict in the Dan White trial, finding White not guilty on the murder counts, but guilty on two counts of voluntary manslaughter.  Following the verdict, a protest erupts in S.F.'s Castro district, with the crowd chanting, "Avenge Harvery Milk!"  Later, rioters throw stones through the windows of City Hall.
July 3, 1979
Dan White is sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison.
January 7, 1984 After serving five years of a seven-year sentence, Dan White is paroled from Soledad State Prison.  (While in Soledad, White told homicide inspector Frank Falzon that on the day of the shootings, he had intended to kill four people, including Supervisor Carol Silver and California State Assembly member Willie Brown.)
October 21, 1985 Dan White commits suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage of his San Francisco home.

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