Janet Reno, America’s first female U.S. Attorney General, has died at age 78.
Reno passed away early Monday at her home in Miami, Florida, the Associated Press reports.
She died of complications from Parkinson’s disease.
The AP reports Reno died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends.
Reno is best known for ordering the armed federal seizure of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez from the Little Havana home of his Miami relatives in 2000.
Gonzalez and the tire inner tube he clung to was plucked out of the ocean by 2 fisherman in 1999. It is believed he was the lone survivor of a daring escape from Cuba during which his mother drowned.
The Supreme Court ordered Elian to be returned to his father, Juan Miguel, in Cuba. But his Miami relatives refused.
Reno negotiated for months with Elian’s maternal relatives, finally warning his cousin, Marisleysis Gonzalez, that it would be her saddest day if the feds had to take Elian by force.
Reno made history on Feb. 28, 1993, when she was confirmed as U.S. attorney general.
Controversy soon erupted when Reno ordered the raid of the Branch Davidian religious compound near Waco, Texas.
The ensuing 51-day Waco siege standoff resulted in 76 deaths — including scores of children — when the compound mysteriously burned to the ground.
Reno later said it was the worst day of her life.
In 1978 Reno was appointed State Attorney for Dade County (Miami). She prosecuted five white police officers who were later acquitted of the beating death of a black insurance agent.
The resulting riots left 18 people dead, dozens injured, and millions of dollars in property damage.
Members of the black community marched on downtown Miami, calling for Reno’s resignation.
Reno eventually won the support of the black community after she attended meetings with black clergy, cookouts at black churches, and rode in parades.
Reno, who was rumored to be a closeted lesbian, never married.