AS AIDS IN THE U.S. TURNS 20, A LOOK AT TWO DECADES OF RADICAL AIDS ACTIVISM, INCLUDING: STORMING THE CBS EVENING NEWS AND THE MACNEIL-LEHRER NEWS HOUR, HALTING TRADING AT THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE, AND OCCUPYING GRAND CENTRAL STATION AT RUSH HOUR [Replay DN! June 7, 2001]
AS AIDS IN THE U.S. TURNS 20, A LOOK AT TWO DECADES OF RADICAL AIDS ACTIVISM, INCLUDING: STORMING THE CBS EVENING NEWS AND THE MACNEIL-LEHRER NEWS HOUR, HALTING TRADING AT THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE, AND OCCUPYING GRAND CENTRAL STATION AT RUSH HOUR Twenty years ago this week, the Centers for Disease Control's newsletter reported 5 unrelated cases of pneumonia in homosexual men in the Los Angeles area. Two of them had already died. The report generated little interest. As the death toll mounted and people with AIDS lost friend after friend, they found themselves up against incredible odds: a government that refused to acknowledge the disease - the Surgeon General under Reagan said the White House had prevented him from making any public statements on AIDS for the first 3 years of the epidemic; government bureaucrats who wouldn't approve drugs fast enough; right-wing leaders, who called the disease God's revenge on gays; brutal, homophobic police, who wore gloves while beating up activists; a media more concerned about convincing the public that Saddam Hussein should be punished than about deaths at home; and a homophobic general population who stood by watching. But the incredible odds bred incredible results. AIDS activists conceived and carried out some of the most disruptive and effective actions in U.S. history. A few examples: *October 11, 1988: the newly formed AIDS action group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) shuts down the FDA in Washington. *September 14, 1989: ACT UP members infiltrate the New York Stock Exchange, staging a demo on the floor and stopping trading for the first time in history. The activists demanded that traders sell stock in Bourroughs Wellcome, now Glaxo-Wellcome, who was the only maker of AZT and charged exorbitant prices. *January 22, 1991: ACT UP members make it onto the set of the CBS evening news interrupting Dan Rather and the MacNeil-Lehrer show. Today we're going to devote the hour to AIDS activism in this country over the past 20 years. We start with the CBS evening news on January 22, 1991... Tape: CBS Evening News, News Reports Of The Incident, And The Macneil-Lehrer News Hour On January 22, 1991. Interview With John Weir, the activist who appeared made it on camera during the CBS evening news. Special thanks to James Wentzy of AIDS Community Television for providing the news footage and the interview with John Weir. Special thanks also to Bob Lederer. Story: AIDS ACTIVISM AT 20, CONT'D: A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION You just heard John Weir describe in his own words what happened. It was Ann Northrup, a former CBS producer, who helped the activists get into the studio... Guests: Ann Northrup, long-time member of ACTUP, former CBS producer, journalist, activist, and co-host of Gay USA on local cable TV in New York. Eric Sawyer, one of the founders of ACT UP New York. Julie Davids, member of ACTUP Philadelphia since 1990, director of Critical Path AIDS Project (an advocacy organization in Philadelphia focusing on treatment and research and internet service provider for HIV people). Mary Lucy, "long-term survivor of AIDS politics," and interim AIDS coordinator for the city of Los Angeles. She was the co-founder of the Women's Caucus of ACT UP and co-founder of Women Alive, the PWA coalition for women. Phill Wilson, founding director of the African-American AIDS Policy and Training Institute at the University of Southern California. He has been living with HIV for 21 years, and full blown AIDS for 10 years. Related links: ACT UP New York ACT UP Philadelphia BlackAIDS.org Story: AIDS ACTIVISTS DEBATE THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF HIV RESEARCH AT THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL Guest: Dr. Ron Valdiserri, Deputy Director of HIV research at the Centers for Disease Control. Related link: Centers For Disease Control.