Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

White Night Riots filming set for City Hall

A scene from the 1979 White Night Riots. Photo: Dan Nicoletta.

A scene from the 1979 White Night Riots. Photo: Dan Nicoletta.

The famous White Night Riots will be recreated tonight (Friday, April 29) at San Francisco’s City Hall for filming of the ABC TV miniseries When We Rise.

The film, which is based on the upcoming memoir of Harvey Milk confidante Cleve Jones, covers the lives of Jones and others who helped lead the LGBT rights movement from the 1970s through today.

According to a news release from the city’s Film Commission, “The production will have large billowing smoke effects, lighting that will mimic flames in the basement windows of City Hall, and a clash between actors dressed as police and rioters. Please do not be alarmed.”

The May 21, 1979 riots involved fiery battles between police and residents that erupted after a jury convicted Milk assassin Dan White only of manslaughter, rather than murder.

Street closures will be in effect Friday on Polk between Golden Gate and Hayes, most of McAllister between Larkin and Van Ness, and Grove between Van Ness and Larkin. A start time wasn’t provided.

Police will be on hand “to assist with the production and public safety,” officials said.

In an email to reporters, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said filming would take place from Friday “to May 1 at City Hall, UN Plaza and Castro neighborhoods. This is about gay rights and will be recreating the White Night Riot scene tonight.”

He suggested that reporters should let others in their newsrooms know that they shouldn’t mistake the “flames and smoke effects” for an actual riot.

Milk became the first out LGBT elected official in California when he won a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1977. White, a former supervisor, assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone in City Hall in November 1978.

After Milk’s death, Jones, who lives in the Castro, went on to become a well-known AIDS and labor activist, founding the AIDS quilt. His book is set to be released on his 62nd birthday, October 11.

Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the 2008 Milk biopic, also wrote the screenplay for When We Rise.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 29, 2016 @ 4:13 pm PST
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