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LB City Officials, Joined By Nephew of Assassinated SF Supervisor Harvey Milk, Display Artist Renderings, Hold Ceremonial Groundbreaking For Harvey Milk Promenade Park, Announce Initial Local Honorees For Adjoining Equality Plaza


(May 22, 2012) -- has on-demand VIDEO -- webcast LIVE earlier today, May 22 on's front page -- and photos of this morning's (May 22) media event and ceremonial groundbreaking at the 3rd St./Promenade location of the future Harvey Milk Promenade Park, its name basically agreed to by the City Council last year with conceptual plans displayed for reporters and attendees today along with a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Video streaming by Ustream

Video is compressed file and may take a few seconds to load; we separately recorded higher quality video of this event, not yet edited.

Today's event was described by Councilman Robert Garcia's office as groundbreaking for the first park in U.S. to be named for the assassinated San Francisco Supervisor although no start date for construction was named. The area is currently a sidewalk and a buffer adjacent to a parking structure north of 3rd St., across the street from which (south of 3rd St.) is a long walkway (The Promenade) and artist renderings (below) were displayed, part of a Promenade Master Plan.

Image looking from west to east on Third St, crossing the Promenade

A Promenade Master Plan with a number of upgrades was being developed when naming part of the area for Supervisor Milk was proposed last year by Councilman Garcia. In artist renderings and as described by Councilman Garcia's office, an area focusing on Supervisor Milk will include places to sit, a memorial (including a replica of Milk's famous soapbox) and Equality Plaza (at which nine members of the local LGBT community were announced this morning).

Close-up of Harvey Milk area (Equality Plaza area in orange, at left). View looks northward

In podium comments. Councilman Garcia said today's event was important not just for Long Beach but for the whole country. He said that Supervisor Milk was important not only as a civil rights and gay community advocate but [summary paraphrase] as demonstrating the best in American civic life.

LB Mayor Bob Foster said western civilization was [summary paraphrase] marked by trailblazing individuals, and Supervisor Milk was one such person who'd brought major changes many now take for granted. Mayor Foster noted that at the time of Supervisor Milk's activism and political life, there was serious resistance to matters he advocated that are today accepted by many.

Supervisor Milk's nephew, Stuart Milk, said that his uncle's birthday (May 22) is now observed in places around the world. He noted that Supervisor Milk didn't shrink from controversy...and considered it positive in bringing media attention to issues that should be debated openly, not hidden from discussion.

Councilman Garcia noted that naming the park for Supervisor Milk generated some controversy, as did Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal (whom Councilman Garcia invited to the podium for remarks). However neither mentioned that the major issue didn't center on the whether to name a Long Beach park for a gay individual but rather whom to choose for the first Long Beach park to be named for an LGBT person.

On Facebook and in media and Council comments at the time, a number of residents urged naming the area for openly-gay tennis star Billie Jean King, a Long Beach native. (Supervisor Milk had no direct connections to Long Beach). At one point in 2011, Mayor Foster's wife Nancy commented on Facebook that the choice of Ms. King sounded like a good idea to her (but didn't subsequently press the point).

Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske (5th Council district, the second openly gay LB elected official, 2006) proposed that the area be named for multiple local individuals who'd been active in efforts for gay rights. Councilman Garcia ultimately adopted the concept of an Equality Plaza in his plans, recognizing local individuals, but didn't credit Councilwoman Schipske for the concept at today's press event. (Councilwoman Schipske wasn't present today, nor were any other Councilmembers with the exception of Garcia and Lowenthal.)

Nine members of the local LGBT community were chosen as the first honorees for the Equality Plaza by a committee selected by Councilman Garcia. The first honorees are:

  • Bob Crow - Co-Founder, Current Co-President, LB PRIDE
  • Ray Lowen, Founding member of The Center, activist and artist
  • Patty Moore, Former Chair and Asst. Director, The Center; longtime activist
  • Michael Noll, First openly gay Signal Hill Councilmember; 20 years on Council; The Center Board
  • Frank Rubio, Former President, Current Vice-President, LB PRIDE
  • Ellen Ward, Signal Hill Councilmember 11 years; Former Exec Director AIDS WALK

Posthumous honorees:

  • Pastor Michael Cole, Founder, Christ's Chapel Long Beach; Founder, AIDS Food Store
  • Ellen "Mary" Martinez, 25 year member of LB PRIDE; Board Member, The Center
  • Jean Harris, Former Executive Director, CA Alliance for Pride and Equality; political leader

Councilman Garcia (1st Council district) is the third openly gay LB elected official. Councilman Dan Baker (2nd Council district) was the first openly gay LB Councilmember, elected in 1999. He resigned his office in 2006 and was succeeded by Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal.

Naming the area for Harvey Milk was approved in summer 2011 by a City Council committee and the city's Parks & Recreation Commission, the latter explicitly stating that its approval depended on the Council subsequently declaring the area a park. Thus, the claim to be the first U.S. park named for Supervisor Milk is arguably a bit premature...since the area technically isn't technically "park" land yet.

However, on Aug. 2, 2011, the Council did vote (8-0 as a consent calendar item) to name "the future park at 3rd St. and the Promenade Harvey Milk Park," a statement of its future intention. It hasn't voted (yet) to formally dedicate the area as park land (there is no "Promenade Park" yet) [and isn't quite certain who owns the former Redevelopment Agency owned land (the parking structure and abutting area) that is envisioned for the Harvey Milk Park/Equality Plaza area

Councilman Garcia indicated at today's event that he expects an even larger event when the park and plaza areas are completed and opened.

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