Pres. Biden praises Dianne Feinstein as defender of American values at San Francisco memorial

ByCornell Barnard, Tim Johns, Lena Howland, Suzanne Phan KGO logo
Friday, October 6, 2023
Biden praises Feinstein as defender of American values at SF memorial
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other lawmakers pay their respects to Senator Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The City of San Francisco said its final goodbye to Senator Dianne Feinstein on Thursday.

There was a lot of security and blocked-off roads around City Hall, with the memorial service closed to the public because of increased security. Officials announced Wednesday evening that the event was changed to 'invitation only.'

VIDEO: Senator Dianne Feinstein remembered at SF City Hall memorial service

World leaders, dignitaries, family and friends gathered in San Francisco, to say farewell to the late Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Each one of the invited guests and people working as event staff would have to go through metal detectors and be checked by Secret Service.

"Logistically, I think it makes sense, you know? I think you'd want it to be open to everybody. But whether or not that's tenable is, you know, and in today's climate, it's probably just not feasible," said SF resident Thomas Brugge.

A number of high-profile faces were in attendance to honor Feinstein. Some of those included Vice President Kamala Harris, and California's congressional delegation, including Senator Laphonza Butler. This drew a number of locals up to the fences and blocked-off roads, just to catch a glimpse.

"I love seeing the preparation and the behind-the-scenes and all of the, so much work -- the security -- that the city does to prepare for an event like this. I mean. the vice president's going to be here. That's pretty thrilling I think," Brugge said.

Brugge says after living in the city since 1985, he's grateful he had the opportunity to say goodbye during Wednesday's public viewing at City Hall.

"I was glad that I made the effort to come down and see it, and I think they did a wonderful job paying respect to the former mayor," he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden honored Feinstein in video remarks as a defender of American values and a dear friend at a memorial service for the late U.S. senator.

"She was always tough, prepared, rigorous, compassionate. She always served the people of California and our nation for the right reasons," Biden said in recorded video remarks played at Feinstein's memorial outside San Francisco City Hall.

VIDEO: From the public to leadership, SF pays tribute to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, city's 1st woman mayor

From the public to leadership, San Francisco paid tribute to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the city's first woman mayor.

Roughly 1,500 invited guests were at the private service, where two large screens showed photos of Feinstein over the years. Guests seated in white chairs sweltered on an unseasonably hot day as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight team soared overhead, occasionally interrupting speakers with the roar of their jets.

The flight demonstration squadron is in the city as part of Fleet Week, an annual San Francisco celebration started by Feinstein in 1981 when she was mayor.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were scheduled to deliver remarks, along with Feinstein's granddaughter, Eileen Mariano, who will speak for family.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, and former Gov. Jerry Brown were in the audience.

Noah Griffin was Senator Feinstein's second administrative aide back in 1974. Griffin attended Thursday's memorial service.

"A nice remembrance, a celebration of life. I'm sad these things couldn't be said for Dianne while she was still living. She was a martyr, she was a martyr to duty, a martyr to the Democratic Party," said Griffin.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao was one of the many local leaders who turned out.

"We all were held up on the shoulders of Senator Dianne Feinstein. As a young politician myself, as a young woman, it is through the leadership of Senator Feinstein we are able to be here today," said Thao.

San Francisco District Attorney Brook Jenkins says she also was inspired by Senator Feinstein's legacy.

"I took away that we women have to lead. We have to be at the table. We have to continue to fight hard and difficult fights," said Jenkins.

RELATED: 'A trailblazer': Thousands from Bay Area pay respects to Sen. Dianne Feinstein at SF City Hall

The public paid its respects to the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein at San Francisco City Hall Wednesday where her body was lying in state.

Longtime San Francisco community leader Florence Fang wanted to thank the senator for showing compassion and friendship when Fang's late husband passed away.

"But she come to me and said, Florence, who said strong women don't cry. I lend you my strong shoulder," said Fang.

Congressman John Garamendi says he has so much to remember about Senator Feinstein.

"About 40 years of memories with her and our family," said Garamendi.

On Wednesday, the public paid its respects to the late senator at City Hall where her body was lying in state. Hundreds of people from across the Bay Area came out to honor her.

City Hall's rotunda was echoing with music on a solemn day. One by one, members of the public filed by the flag-draped casket to pay respects and say goodbye to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the place where her political career began.

"A sad day, but a beautiful legacy," said Tracy Sherman.

Sherman and Joann Loulan say Feinstein was their hero.

"I think Dianne Feinstein has been a trailblazer, amazing coming for the city and state, I wanted to pay my respects," Sherman said.

"What she did for gun control, LGBTQ rights, rights for women, women in the Senate and the House, she was the godmother. Come on in, we're going to rock this place and she did," Loulan said.

By midday, the line to get into City Hall stretched down Van Ness Avenue. The sun was hot but many didn't care, waiting almost an hour to get inside.

MORE: 'True trailblazer': Biden, Pelosi, fellow senators, political leaders honor Sen. Feinstein's legacy

"All things she worked on, all the things she did, the way she fought for what she believed in, is something you don't see very much anymore," said Peter Delang.

"I remember her coming out of the mayor's office after Milk and Moscone were killed, and she held it together remarkably well for someone who was panicked on the inside," said Staci Delang.

"Just a super trooper, somebody who did the best she could for all," said Evelyn Porter from Oakland.

Mayor London Breed was paying respects to her predecessor alongside Dr. Anthony Fauci, a familiar face from the COVID-19 pandemic. Breed says Feinstein was a woman of firsts.

"What needs to be at the top of the list is how to be a courageous leader, how to lead with courage when it's not always popular," said Breed.

Even after leaving San Francisco politics to become a U.S. senator, Feinstein was known to always keep tabs on the city she loved.

"I don't think she ever gave up the mayorship. I know when I had the job, she'd call me and tell me what I should be doing," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

There were condolence books for the public to sign. And outside, an American Flag was draped between two San Francisco Fire Trucks. SFPD officers stood to salute Feinstein's casket as it arrived at City Hall.

"That salute was all about paying tribute to a person who gave so much to the city, and state and the country -- just paying tribute to one of our greatest leaders," said SFPD Chief William Scott.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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