The huge banner that led the Milk/Moscone Memorial March from the Castro to City Hall during the 35th annual event on 11/27. Photo: Waiyde Palmer
Growing concern about the cost of housing and threat of evictions helped spur a large turnout at Wednesday’s 35th anniversary vigil and march commemorating the murders of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.
During the opening rally, which filled Harvey Milk Plaza at Castro and Market Streets, long-time activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee and Brian Basinger of the AIDS Housing Alliance both echoed Milk’s words — “I am here to recruit you!” — urging attendees to fight to keep San Francisco accessible. Shannell Williams stressed the importance of saving City College. Unlike past years, no elected officials spoke at the rally.
Cleve Jones, who worked with Milk during his days as an elected official, recalled that Harvey himself was priced out of his camera shop and apartment on Castro Street due to a 300% rent increase. More recently, long-time resident Jonathan Klein jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge after a threatened eviction. Jones then unveiled a large “EVICTIONS = DEATH” banner made by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence offered an invocation remembering the many queer and counterculture icons that contributed to the city’s colorful history: “The Cockettes, the Angels of Light, the founders of the Sisters, the Beat poets, Janis Joplin and the 60′s rockers — they never could afford to live in San Francisco today.”
By the time the crowd took to the streets the rally — which most years draws fewer than 50 people — had reached approximately 1,000 strong.
The march route along Market Street provided a tour of recent gentrification, passing several high-end condo developments and the newly opened Whole Foods Market and coming within a block of the headquarters of Twitter, which received a tax break to locate in the run-down mid-Market neighborhood.
Former supervisor Christina Olague addresses the crowd who’d marched down to SF City Hall to honor the memory of Harvey Milk and George Moscone rallying for affordable housing and tenant rights. Photo: Liz Highleyman
More speakers rallied the crowd on the steps of City Hall. “The vision Milk held for us is diminishing,” warned former supervisor Christina Olague. “Twitter didn’t give themselves a tax break — policymakers did. We will not be evicted and we will not be co-opted. “
Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter of the 2008 biopic Milk, said that despite its changes, San Francisco remains a “beacon of hope” for LGBT people and other outsiders. To maintain this legacy, “all of the us’es must come together again.”
March organizer David Waggoner noted that this year’s march brought together more than 30 organizations united in their desire to keep San Francisco welcoming to all people regardless of income.
“The march was a call to arms,” Waggoner told the Castro Biscuit. “Are we going to simply surrender to greed, to gentrification on steroids, to back room deals? Or are we going to stay and fight? Harvey and George lived, worked, and died to give hope to the hopeless, to empower the powerless. What is at stake is nothing less than the soul of this city. We owe it to them — and we owe it to each other — to fight like hell so that San Francisco is once again a place where anyone can call home.”
SFPD out in force.
Memorial altar created by the Milk Club at the Castro MUNI station that bears Harveys name.
Social justice activist and march organizer, Trey Allen, and his trusty bullhorn.
SF Gay Men’s Chorus whose innaugral performance was at the first Milk/Moscone March 35 years ago sang at this years march.
Tom Temprano, Milk Club Prez, addresses the crowd.
Highlighting the current CCSF issue facing the City durning Wednesday nights march.
Even the dogs know the score in the Castro. Photo: Melody Hennigh
(L-R)Two more of tonights march organziers- world reknowned AIDS activist, Matt Sharp, and Tez Anderson, Let’s Kick ASS.org
Marcher carrys a Milk Obama font poster
Sup. Scott Wiener in amongst the crowd did not speak but, as promised, participated as he has for the last decade. Photo: Patrick Connors
One of the many Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence participating in the march.
Alternative energy activist and researcher Marc Geller
Housing activist Tony Robles, a board member of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation
Daniel on the right from Castro’s Mudpuppy’s listens to the speakers during the Milk/Moscone memorial march and rally.
Cleve Jones, former aide to Harvey Milk and current union organzier speaks to the growing crowd about Harveys eviction from the Castro in 1973.
Harveys image bobs amongst the crowd listening to the marches speakers.
Center: Human and housing rights activist and one of the marches organziers, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, reminds the crowd that housing rights is human rights.
No more LGBT homelessness.
Brian Bassinger, ED of the AIDS Housing Alliance, rallies the crowd with, “I’m here to recruit YOU to fight for affordable housing!”
(L-R) Supervisor David Campos and SF College Board member, Rafael Mandel
(L-R) SF’s Eviction Free Summer organizers Carmen Simon and Fred Sherburn-Zimmer.
The sea of marchers looking down Castro from Market St.
The always colorful and inventive Bruce Beaudette.
The march begins down Market St.
Marchers honoring Milk & Moscones memory.
(L-R) Oscar winning screenwriter for ‘Milk’, Dustin Lance Black and Cleve Jones. Photo: Kenny Vick
Banner from one of the groups who organzied this years march.
Marchers heading toward City Hall. Photo: David Embry
Carrying a candle toward City Hall.
Huge Harvey Milk image at the new Whole Foods situated below 38 Dolores development targeted by activists.
Pansy Division lead singer, writer and social justice activist Jon Ginoli.
Stop Ellis Act eviction activist.
(L-R) Dustin Lance Black and tenants rights activist and lawyer, David Waggoner. Photo: Patrick Connors
Marchers and media in front of City Hall lit red for World AIDS Day. Photo: David Embry
The Milk altar in the Castro constructed by members of the Milk Demo Club and community members.
All photos by Waiyde Palmer unless otherwise noted.