SAN FRANCISCO - Wednesday night on ABC7 at 9 p.m., in the ground-breaking mini-series, "When We Rise" viewers see Dianne Feinstein in one of san Francisco's darkest moments in history when she announces the assassinations of Mayor George Mascone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.
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The death of Milk was a turning point in the LGBT Rights movement. Feinstein rarely talks about it, but in 2008, on the 30th anniversary, she sat down for her one and only interview with ABC7 to recount the terrible day.
"I remember it as if it was yesterday, and it was one of the hardest moments if not the hardest moments of my life," said Feinstein.
On November 27, 1978, the spectra of death hung over city hall. Supervisor Dianne Feinstein lost her husband earlier that year and just nine days before, 918 people with ties to the Bay Area had died in the Jonestown Massacre.
Back in the city, political turmoil ensued. A former-cop turned Supervisor had quit his job on the board and now wanted his job back, but Mayor George Moscone decided to give it to someone else.
Enraged, Dan White packed his police issued revolver and bypassed security by slipping through a door in the basement of City Hall.
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Feinstein says she knew Dan White was not going to get his job back.
"So I had been trying to find him. I had a little cubicle next to the door to 228 there, and I saw him come in, and I said Dan can I talk to you, and he went by and I heard the door close, and I heard the shots and smelled the cordite, and I came out of my office and Dan went right by me, and nobody was around every door was closed," said Feinstein.
So she walked down the hall to Supervisor Harvey Milk's office. Milk was the city's first elected openly gay city leader.
"I opened the door and I found Harvey on his stomach, I tried to get a pulse, and put my finger through a bullet hole. He was clearly dead," said Feinstein.
She frantically dialed the police chief, but couldn't reach him. The reason, the chief was across the rotunda at City Hall in the Mayor's office with Dan White's first victim.
"And finally he came across and told me that the mayor had been shot and killed," said Feinstein.
As President of the Board of Supervisor's, Feinstein was now in charge of the city.
"And I went out and made the statement on the balcony outside of the board of supervisors, it was a devasting moment, for San Francisco it was a day of infamy," said Feinstein.
That night San Franciscans came out in mass for a candlelight march remembering the two fallen leaders down Market Street.
But that somber air would not last. "What it did to the city was create a tension, an apprehension, some of it sorrow. Some of it hate, very visceral emotions that you don't usually see, all came to the surface and bubbled up at that time," said Feinstein.
White was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder in the deaths of Milk and Moscone, enraging the city's LGBT community. Riots broke out on the steps of City Hall, with protestors smashing windows, and setting police cars on fire.
White served five years of a seven-year prison sentence. Less than two years after his release, he returned to San Francisco and committed suicide.
Feinstein served two terms as Mayor of the city, and has served as California's senator since 1992. As mayor, she was tasked with bringing together a torn community.
"When We Rise" is ABC's first dramatic mini-series on social issues since "Roots" in 1977.
Watch the four-part miniseries starting Monday at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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