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Season Info

Execution of Justice
By Emily Mann

Lindy Nisbet, Richard Lineback, and Josh Gordon

Scenic Designer
Lighting Designer
Sound Designer
Costume Designer
Video Coordinator
Assistant Director

Todd Nielsen
Barbara Beckley
Scott Storey
Tim Morishita
John Fisher
Bonita Friedericy
Christian P. Wolf
Bobbi Cutler
Dan White
Mary Ann White
Sister Boom Boom
Richard Lineback
Lindy Nisbet
Jim Hatch
Bob Ari

Jim Denman, White’s Jailer
Young Mother
Milk’s Friend
Gwenn Craig, V.P., Harvey Milk Democratic Club
City Supervisor, Harry Britt, Milk’s Successor
Joseph Freitas, D.A.

Robert Budaska
Kristina Coggins
Scott Segall
Ruby Millsap
Hugh Maguire
Robert Budaska
J. Sean Harris

The Court
Court Clerk
Douglas Schmidt, Defense Attorney
Thomas F. Norman, Prosecuting Attorney
Joan McIntosh, TV Reporter
Prospective Jurors
Juror #3

Stuart Lancaster
RoZsa Horvath
Josh Gordon
Russ Marin
Sandra Kinder
J. Sean Harris, Eileen T’Kaye
Keith Mills
Whitney Rydbeck
Ruby Millsap

Coroner Stephens
Rudy Nothenberg, Deputy Mayor, Moscone’s Friend
Barbara Taylor, Reporter
Officer Byrne, Department of Records
William Melia, Civil Engineer
Cyr Copertini, Secretary to the Mayor
Carl Henry Carlson, Aide to Harvey Milk
Richard Pabich, Assistant to Harvey Milk
Inspector Frank Falzone, Homicide
Inspector Edward Erdelatz

Whitney Rydbeck
Darrell Sandeen
Eileen T’Kaye
Ruby Millsap
J. Sean Harris
RoZsa Horvath
Keith Mills
Bob Ari
Hugh Maguire
Jim Hatch

Denise Apcar, Aide to White
Fire Chief Sherratt
Fireman Frediani
Police Officer Sullivan
City Supervisor Lee Dolson
Dr. Jones
Dr. Solomon
Dr. Blunder
Dr. Lunde
Dr. Delman

Kristina Coggins
Darrell Sandeen
J. Sean Harris 
Jim Hatch
Keith Mills
Whitney Rydbeck
RoZsa Horvath
Hugh Maguire
Keith Mills
Darrell Sandeen
City Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver
Dr. Levy, Psychiatrist
Eileen T’Kaye
Keith Mills
Riot Police

Jim Hatch, Hugh Maguire, Keith Mills, Eileen T’Kaye


The Time: 1978 to the present
The Place: San Francisco

The words come from trial transcripts, reportage, and interviews



San Francisco is in flux. Piers that once held freight now hold tourist attractions. Downtown develops as a corporate headquarters, and white-collar jobs open up. Blue-collar jobs are lost, out-numbered by service-industry jobs. Working-class neighborhoods, both black and Irish Catholic, deteriorate. San Francisco’s homosexual community grows strong and becomes a mecca for thousands of gays from across the country. Many settle in one of the city’s changing neighborhoods, along Castro Street.

Office seekers adapt to the realignment of political power.

Two young women try to kill President Ford.

November 4, 1975

A coalition of racial minorities, labor rank and file, and neighborhood activists breaks down the decades-long control of City Hall by the Irish political machine. George Moscone is elected Mayor.

Among the Mayor’s appointments is the Reverend Jim Jones, whom Moscone names chairman of the city’s Housing Authority.


An attempt is made, with a bomb, to kill Supervisor Dianne Feinstein.


An attempt is made, with a bomb, to kill District Attorney Joseph Freitas.

Spring 1977

Dan White decides to run for Supervisor from District 8, a heavily Catholic working-class neighborhood in southeast San Francisco. White is a native San Franciscan, a high school sports star, a Vietnam vet, an ex-police officer, and a fireman. He adopts the theme from "Rocky" as his campaign song. A prime issue in White’s campaign is his opposition to a home for juvenile offenders located in his district.

Harvey Milk, a small businessman and leader of the Castro gay community, runs for Supervisor in District 5. Milk is a native New Yorker and part of the recent gay migration to San Francisco.

November 8, 1977

Harvey Milk, "The Mayor of Castro Street," wins a seat on the Board of Supervisors. He is the first openly gay elected official in the United States. Dan White, who in his campaign had pledged to "eradicate the malignancies which blight our beautiful city," also wins election to the Board.

March 1978

A Board of Supervisors committee, chaired by White, meets to consider Milk’s first legislative proposal: a ban against all forms of discrimination against gays in the city. The committee votes 3-0 to recommend approval to the full Board. The following Monday, the Board considers whether or not to approve the Juvenile Home. White believes he has Milk’s support to give him the 6-5 majority he needs to close the Home. When the vote is taken, however, Milk votes for the Home, and the issue White had campaigned on is defeated by one vote. When the gay rights legislation is brought up before the entire Board, a week later, White is the one supervisor to vote against it.

Fall 1987

Harvey Milk campaigns statewide against the Briggs Initiative, a ballot proposition championed by archconservative State Senator John Briggs, which would ban homosexuals from teaching in California schools. Dan White contributes $100 to Milk’s anti-Briggs campaign, saying "Everyone has the right to earn a living." 

Harassed by press investigations into irregularities at the People’s Temple, Jim Jones moves his congregation to Jonestown, the jungle refuge he is building in Guyana.

Tuesday, November 7

The Briggs Initiative is defeated. Another initiative, sponsored by Briggs, Proposition 7, passes. Proposition 7 enacts a tougher death penalty and includes a clause invoking an automatic death penalty for anyone convicted of murdering a public official. Milk and Moscone strongly opposed Proposition 7. White supported its passage.

Friday, November 10

Dan White resigns from the Board of Supervisors, citing financial difficulties as the reason. Harvey Milk extracts a promise from Mayor Moscone that White’s replacement will be sympathetic to the needs of the gay community.

Tuesday, November 14

Challenged by his disappointed aides and supporters, White reconsiders his decision. He calls Moscone and asks for his resignation back.

Wednesday, November 15

Moscone meets with White and tells him that as long as there are no legal impediments he will consider the resignation rescinded. He adds that if there is a legal question, he will simply reappoint White to the Board. White goes to the City Attorney’s office to ask about the legal question and overhears a phone call from Harvey Milk asking for the same information.

Congressman Leo Ryan arrives in Guyana to investigate a constituent’s charges that his grandson is being held in Jonestown against his will.

Thursday, November 16

Dan White appears at a public rally organized to oppose his reappointment to the Board. He fails to win the crowd to his side and is literally booed off the stage. Hearing of this, Moscone begins to have second thoughts about reappointing White.

Saturday, November 18

The City Attorney tells Moscone that White cannot rescind his resignation; it is up to the Mayor to reappoint him. Moscone tells White he needs concrete proof of support for White from the citizens of District 8.

Sunday, November 19

Congressman Ryan is killed in Guyana and the first news of the massacre reaches San Francisco.

Tuesday, November 21

White’s aides seek a temporary restraining order to prevent the Mayor from appointing someone else.

The body count in Guyana tops 500. Rumors of a People’s Temple hit squad are given credence by the police. Security measures are implemented by City Hall.

Thursday, November 23

Thanksgiving. Moscone receives two death threats connected with the People’s Temple.

Friday, November 24

Moscone learns that the restraining order has been turned down in court. He is free to appoint whom he wants.
The body count in Guyana is up to 780.

Saturday, November 25

Moscone offers Dan Horanzy the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors. Horanzy asks for time to consider. White hears the rumor that someone will be appointed to his seat on Monday.

Sunday, November 26

The morning paper puts the body count in Guyana at 910.

Horanzy calls Moscone to accept the seat. Moscone tells him to be at City Hall for a press conference at 10:30.
That evening, White receives a phone call from KCBS News asking for his reaction to Moscone’s decision to appoint someone else to his seat.

Monday, November 27

Dan White enters the Mayor’s office in City Hall and shoots George Moscone four times. He reloads his gun, enters the Supervisor’s office, and shoots Harvey Milk five times. He meets his wife Mary Ann at St. Mary’s Cathedral, then surrenders to the police. That evening a tremendous crowd moves down Market Street from the Castro district in a candlelight procession and gathers outside City Hall.

Diane Feinstein, as President of the Board of Supervisors, becomes Acting Mayor.

May 1, 1979

The trial of Dan White, on two counts of first-degree murder, begins.

May 21, 1979

Dan White is convicted of two counts of the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter. Maximum sentence: seven years and eight months. A mob of thousands, led by the city’s gay community, attacks City Hall, shattering windows and burning police cars. 150 are injured. Later that night, the police riot on Castro Street, clubbing down homosexuals on the sidewalks and in the gay bars.

November 1979

Dianne Feinstein is elected Mayor of San Francisco.


The California penal code is amended to prevent arguing the "diminished capacity" defense, which attorney Douglas Schmidt used in the trial of Dan White.

January 6, 1984

Dan White is paroled from Soledad Prison. He begins life outside in Los Angeles.

October 21, 1985

Dan White is found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning, an apparent suicide, at his wife’s home in San Francisco.

Adapted from program notes for the Empty Space and Center Stage productions.

" — and if you’re not good directly," she added, "I’ll put you through into Looking-glass House. How would you like that?

"Now, if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about the Looking-glass House. First, there’s the room you can see through the glass that’s just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way."

 — Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

He, too, has resigned his part
in the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
From "Easter, 1916" by W.B. Yeats

(Written about the Irish Patriots’ doomed uprising against the English troops occupying their homeland.)


"Understanding is no panacea, but it can be a bridge over which we can move forward."

— Mike Weiss, in his book Double Play: the San Francisco City Hall Killings

Read the Drama-Logue Review