On the evening of October 31 st, the night of Halloween 1969 a group of Sixty members from (GLF) Gay Liberation Front and (SIR) Society for Individual Rights staged a protest in front of the San Francisco‘s Examiner. This was in response to more than a handfull of news articles disparaging the LGBT people in San Francisco’s gay bars, clubs and establishments.
That evening, what started as a peaceful protest against the homophobic editorial policies of the Examiner turned tumultuous and were later called “Friday of the Purple Hand” and “Bloody Friday of the Purple Hand”. Employees from the Examiner took a bag of purple printers ink and dumped it from the third story window of the newspaper building onto the crowd below.
Many reports were that it was a barrel of purple ink poured from the roof of the building. A few protestors used the same ink to graffiti such things as “Gay Power” and stamp purple hand prints throughout downtown San Francisco. This resulted in one of the most visible demonstrations of gay power in San Francisco.
SIR’s president at the time Larry LittleJohn mentions “At that point the tactical squad arrived on the scene not to arrest the employees who dumped the purple ink onto the crowd, but to arrest the innocent demonstrators who were the victims.” Instead of the police surrounding the Examiner building they went after the gays and lesbians.
It was amazing the amount of illegal police brutality towards the innocent demonstrators, including women being thrown down to the ground and protester’s teeth being knocked out. The Purple Hand inspired by “Black Hand” (La Mano Nera in Italian) extortion methods of Camorra gangsters and the Mafia. A few activist made an attempt to incorporate the “purple hand” as a gay and lesbian symbol as a warning to stop the anti-gay hate and attacks towards the LGBT community with little success.