Mantra from the Milk/Moscone memorial march: "Fight back!"

Activists march from the Castro to City Hall.
Luke Thomas

Hundreds of activists and progressive San Franciscans marked the 35th anniversary of the Mayor George Moscone and Sup. Harvey Milk assassinations on Wednesday night in the Castro with fiery speeches urging the crowd to “fight back!” against displacement and gentrification, conjuring the words and spirit of those slain leftist leaders.

“Gotta have hope just to stay alive,” the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sang of Milk and his message on the 35th anniversary of that chorus’ first performance, on the steps of City Hall on the day of the tragedy, belting out the refrain, “Gotta give ‘em hope.”

Despite the onslaught of evictions triggered by real estate speculators and the city’s current economic development policies, such as the tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks extended to Twitter alone, the defiant message from this podium did have an undercurrent of hope.

But that hope was predicated on people’s willingness to organize and engage in “a fight they started,” Tom Temprano, president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, said of Milk and Moscone, “a fight against gentrification and displacement.”

Yet Temprano also said that people have to feel stable and secure to really have hope: “You can’t have hope without a roof over your head. You can’t have hope without affordable housing. And that’s why we’re marching today.”

Temprano then played an old news clip of Milk talking about his own eviction from the camera store and apartment where he lived on Castro Street, the result of similar economic forces that are overtaking the city today.

Milk explained how San Francisco’s economy relies on local residents being able to earn a living wage and not pay too much of their incomes in rents. But when landlords gouge their tenants, they have less to spend in local businesses, “and sooner or later, that’s going to crunch the economy locally.”

One of the more fiery speeches of the evening came from Brian Basinger of the AIDS Housing Alliance, who used one of Milk’s signature lines when he said, “I’m Brian Basinger and I’m here to recruit you. I’m here to recruit you into a movement for housing justice that goes back decades.”

He cited the recent successes of that movement, from suing to stop CitiApartments from abusing and exploiting its tenants to stopping the 8 Washington luxury condo project when the voters overwhelmingly defeated Props. B&C this month.

“Housing rights are human rights,” Basinger said.

Housing activist Tony Robles, a board member of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, recalled being a student at Mission High School when the news of the assassinations was announced, an event that profoundly affected him. He said they represented “the spirit of community and the spirit of fighting for what is right.”

Robles called out Sup. Scott Wiener, a Milk successor representing the Castro, calling Wiener unworthy of that legacy, citing Wiener’s legislation allowing more apartments to be converted to condos and with closing the parks at night. “You were no Harvey Milk when you made that move, brother,” Robles said, closing with this hope: “Let the poetry of Harvey Milk’s struggle live on in the streets of San Francisco.”

Wiener and other politicians, including Mayor Ed Lee, Sen. Mark Leno, Board President David Chiu, and state Democratic Party head John Burton, spoke earlier in the day at a City Hall memorial. But they pointedly weren’t invited to the more raucous evening event (although Sup. David Campos, whose Assembly race against Chiu the Milk Club has endorsed, did show up to offer his silent support).

“Fuck you, we are staying!” was the message Shannell Williams, a San Francisco native and a rising young activist who came from the Save City College movement, had for city’s landlords and those who say low and middle income earners should just move to Oakland.

She and others recalled the message of love and inclusion that were hallmarks of Milk and Moscone’s political philosophy, as well as their belief in building coalitions to defeat powerful economic interests.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the SF Housing Rights Committee cited recent successes the movement has had in fighting back against evictions and said, “It’s because of the power we have as tenants when we unite and we fight back.”

He said that was Milk’s central message: “If we unite and fight, we can win.” And Mecca said San Francisco “doesn’t belong to greedy landlords, it belongs to all of us.”

Cleve Jones, an longtime LGBT activist who was an intern for Milk at the time of the assassinations, noted that, “There are some who will question our desire to raise political points tonight,” recognizing this occasion has usually been a solemn memorial march.

But he said that using this occasion as a vehicle for political organizing is the best way to honor the legacy of Milk and Moscone, who Jones said would be appalled by what’s happening in this city. Jones told the story of an aging gay activist who was recently depressed about being displaced from the city, and Jones tried to comfort him by saying, “It’s hard to get old in this town and see all the changes.”

It didn’t help: Days later, Jones said his friend committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It’s not rhetoric and it’s not hyperbole. This destroys lives,” Jones said. It was a message repeated on a large banner carried by those leading the march to City Hall, which read, “Eviction=Death.”

The rally was closed out by members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who cited a long list of “weird, kooky artistic innovators” from San Francisco’s past, and said that, “They never could have afforded to live here today.”

Then the Sisters offered an invocation they called the “Rosary of Housing Evils,” asking the crowd to repeat the mantra “Save us from the speculators” between each of their prayers and observations for the city, which included:

“Harvey Milk was evicted from his home.”

“Extend rent control to all residential and commercial units.”

“Forty percent of queer seniors cannot afford their rents.”

“Rent has risen 21 percent this year.”

“We all need to stay together or they’ll pick us off one by one.”








Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

Don't know the guy personally.

Could be neither, could be both.

Seems to me a Conspiracy Theorist is someone who sees conspiracies everywhere, but doesn't necessarily construct any on their own, or with the help of others

Posted by Mizpah Sussex on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

He didn't win but delayed the damn things for years, so he is a personal hero of mine. Anyone who slaps those self-absorbed, self-entitled, affluent white male tech workers is OK with me.

Posted by anon on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

Not surprised you enjoy a slap fest, Anon.

Posted by Ritch Bryant on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:28 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

This is crazy capitalist hating building no housing leads to cheaper housing wingnut zone.

If you want to drone on and on about how much you hate fixies you should go post in an article about bicycling or cars or Muni or some other article remotely related to the topic.

Thanks a bunch.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

True. Whenever I see Rob trolling on sites it's always about his hard-on with cyclists. His rabid obsession with cyclists. It's as bad as that other useless troll's rabid obsession with "progressives." They both need to get an exorcism to remove themselves from what they're possessed by. Or maybe in Rob's case, get on a bicycle and ride it. Cycling has many health benefits and perhaps that would deal with his loco-in-the-head problems.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

these dumb bike lanes for a few years.

Some of us thought that was highly amusing.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

I love it when people waste taxpayer dollars. I guess you do, too!

Do you work for The Pentagon?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

that he pulled the EIR lawsuit out of the progressive bag of tricks?

It's interesting that progressives call others dumb and manipulated.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 12:49 am

The Court finds that the City has complied with CEQA and the Court's orders to conduct environmental review on the Bicycle Plan, including its policies and goals and individual improvement projects.
(1) The Petitioners' Objections to the Respondent's Return to the Peremptory Writ of Mandate
are hereby OVERRULED.
(2) The Peremptory Writ of Mandate issued on June 18,2007 is hereby discharged in its
(3) Petitioners' Objections to Respondents' Administrative Record are OVERRULED.
(4) The Respondent's Request for Judicial Notice is hereby GRANTED.
(5) The Petitioners' Request for Judicial Notice is hereby GRANTED.
(6) By August 23, 2010, the City shall certify, and file and serve a Notice that it has certified all
documents of the City agencies in the Post-Judgment Administrative Record lodged by Petitioners on
March 23, 2010Y


I know you get a kick out of watching bicyclists killed and maimed on the streets of San Francisco, but thankfully people like you and Rob are the fringe here.

Why don't you move to Oakland?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 9:55 am

You don't do context then?

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 11:31 am

cyclists get into more "accidents" than expected is precisely because of the kind of arrogance that you are demonstrating here? People just don't feel the same empathy for your "vulnerability" than you would like to think.

In an emergency when a split-second decision has to be made to swerve left or right to avoid an oncoming vehicle or dog running out into the road, I'm probably going to swerve right regardless of whether there is a bike lane there and regardless of whether your arrogant ass is there or not.

Karma is a bitch for the uppity bike mob, and you have brought it all on yourselves.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 11:42 am

Just like all your fat ass sociopathic SUV driving brethren. Karma is a bitch that way, isn't it?

I see your type seething in your $80k luxury SUV, stuck in traffic at rush hour, leaning on your horn and screaming while I happily whiz by you in my $100 beater.

See, choices have consequences and the sooner you grow up and realize that, the better off you will be.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

As well as an arrogance issue.

I'll lay decent odds on me living a lot longer than you, and not just because you ride a bike.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

I am not angry about anything, I have a great life. It your sociopathic murderous lying ass that I am worried about.

What is the Karma from the 100,000 dead Iraqis I wonder? They died for your sins.

I am sure I will *get* what is coming to me:

* Bicycle lanes on Folsom
* Bicycle lanes on Polk
* Bicycle lanes on Masonic
* Bicycle lanes on Geary
* Bicycle lanes on Mission

Enjoy being stuck in worse and worse traffic asshole!

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

Dead cyclist on 16th

Dead cyclist on 6th

Two road rage incidents in the last few weeks, with two cyclists in hospital.

I'm liking my odds, not yours, asswipe.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

Your heros are middle-aged losers who committed felony assault with their SUVs and ended up in jail? Better watch it there buddy, pasty middle-aged fat guys don't tend to do that well in prison. If you want to outlive me, you might want to control your anger.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

The fact that cyclists are getting hit, either by accident or not, can be directly attributed to cyclist behavior.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

Seriously, what does that have to do with anything?

I think the reason your a progressive is becoming obvious.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

Must be all the stress and all.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

Cause the Iraqis died in a war over oil.

The oil that gets refined into gasoline for automobiles.

That would be the karmic connection.

Although I understand your primary mode of transit is a bicycle, Matlock, so I guess you are off the hook.

But Guest has bragged about how he drives an SUV. So his Karma is on shakier ground.

Posted by pete moss on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

You don't think the Iraq War had anything to do with oil? You are probably the only American who doesn't.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

GPD, I am on your side here.

I agree that the Iraq war was, is, %100 about oil.

I apologize if that's not clear in my previous post.

Posted by pete moss on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

But if Iraq had had no oil, it would have had no money, and Saddam would have had far less power, meaning he was less of a threat.

The goal was regime change. The oil just made the country worth worrying about in the first place.

Anyway, every American consumes large amounts of energy and oil even if they do not drive.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 8:45 am

"The U.S. transportation sector consumes more oil than all other U.S. sources combined. "

"Oil accounts for more than 95 percent of all the energy used for transportation in the United States"

Maybe you bought the lie that Iraq was all about the WMD, but most people have realized that a con job by now. It is probably true that putting taxpayer money in the pockets of defense contractors was also a goal, but we could have beaten up on any weak country to accomplish that. We picked Iraq because it has oil.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

conspiracy theories that the war was about oil. And as I already said, we care far less about crackpot dictators who are harmless because they lack oil revenues.

But the war was first and foremost about WMD's and the perceived terror threat. The fact that Saddam had gotten rid of them already doesn't change that.

the oil is just a bonus.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

My SUV was only 46 K…..

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:35 am

fetishize their bikes. It's bad when car owners do it but good when cyclists do.

Posted by The Goebblin Love Child of Smaug on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

Please keep your twisted fetishes to yourself.

How do you fuck an automobile anyway?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

Preferably a cop's boot.

Posted by The Goebblin Love Child of Smaug on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 11:57 am

In England a cars trunk is referred to as 'The Boot'.

I don't know, is there a subset of English kinksters who get off on licking car trunks?

Or being locked in the trunk of a car and cuddling the spare tire while licking the fuzzy stuff they line trunks with?

Sounds asthma inducing to me.

Posted by Napoleon Evans on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

who brings a lawsuit around an EIR is a kook?

Very interesting in a SF progressive go to scheme sort of way.

Left wing lawsuits to get their way are good, non left wing lawsuits are bad.

Just checking, do you post about others being duped?

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 12:54 am

They are all kooks.

Let Goddess sort 'em out.

After they move to Oakland.

Posted by Clyde Townsend on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 7:27 am

If the problems are more than 3 decades old, maybe the city should've built more apartments instead of wishing the universe to stay forever the same.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

NIMBY's do not want to build anything, which of course makes the existing housing stock more expensive.

Progressives like to claim that they are one big happy family but, in practice, the left has been fragmenting into warring fiefdoms ever since Lenin and Trotsky fell out.

The right looks like a homogeneous party of unity compared with the uneasy ragbag of alliances that is the left.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

Eviction = Death ... What a bunch of shrill lunatics. More than 7 Billion people live out side of the San Francisco city limit's and they survive just fine ! More HYPERBOLE from the rent control / property stealing crazies!!!! I trace the decline of San Francisco to the start of rent control in 1979, before the that the city was a nice civilized place. After rent control worked its poison, S F became a cheap toilet and full of bums and nut jobs.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 05, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

so I don't think they are surviving just fine.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 05, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

Well just print lots of money and give it too them… problem solved.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:24 am

Why would they need money isn't that for greedy capitalistic pigs?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:26 am

More reason for the rent control subsidized crowd to leave, clearly they will be rich outside of the SF CITY LIMITS !

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:28 am

Since everyone is so clairvoyant about how Harvey Milk would support their DOGMA, would they also let us know what JESUS would do ?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:41 am

For sure ! I just can't wait for more nut jobs to tell me what jesus wants us all to do…

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

ELLIS ACT PROUDLY !!! Don’t let crazy rent control addicts dehumanize you and steal your property !!!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

home ownership opportunities for existing tenants.

Which is why most tenants I know are grateful for Ellis and the modest, manageable turnover that it induces.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

If Milk was spouting the same nonsense about rising rents destroying the economy 35 years ago, and it is utterly clear that the economy has shot up like a rocket instead, why do people keep spouting such obvious nonsense?

The evidence seems to be that rising rents are good for the economy

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 9:44 am

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