The violent melodrama characterizing the recent murder of a journalist investigating "Your Black Muslim Bakery" has conjured the entire Bay Area history of political violence into our memories. Dan White, James P. Casey, David S. Terry... the list is long and impressive. The anniversary of one of our bloodier favorites is coming up this Thursday -- it's hard to believe that a mere 128 years have passed since the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle pumped a bullet into a future mayor.
It was the heart of a statewide political struggle to reform the constitution. Chronicle editor Charles De Young had just performed a 180-degree about-face from his support of populist firebrand (and bigoted jackass) Denis Kearney, and begun to attack him and his Workingman's Party in print at every opportunity.
Kearney had drafted a womanizing Baptist minister named Isaac Kalloch to run for mayor as his proxy, so De Young generously directed his vituperation towards the Reverend as well. "Skulking", "scoundrel", and "depraved sewer creature" were the sort of words that De Young might direct at someone who had merely failed to tip his hat in the street, and poor Kalloch suffered much, much worse. Though a minister, he energetically returned the favour -- but made the crucial error of insulting De Young's elderly mother.