Gay History - March 24, 1987: ACT UP Stages Its First Major Protest In NYC, 17 Arrested - Video

Gay History – NYC March 24, 1987: ACT UP Stages Its First Major Protest on Wall Street, 17 Arrested – [VIDEOS]

On March 24, 1987, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) staged a massive protest on Wall Street, New York City, to draw attention to the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis and to demand more action from the US government and pharmaceutical companies.

Outraged by the government’s mismanagement of the AIDS Crisis LGBT’s and straight allies unite to form the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. ACT UP.

The demonstration began with a rally in the morning, where thousands of protestors gathered outside the New York Stock Exchange. Activists dressed in white lab coats and carried signs that read “AIDS Is Wall Street’s Business” and “Money for AIDS, Not for War.” The protestors then marched through Lower Manhattan, blocking traffic and chanting slogans such as “Healthcare is a right, not a privilege!” and “ACT UP, Fight Back, Fight AIDS!

The protest aimed to highlight the financial interests ((especially Burroughs Wellcome, manufacturer of AZT) that were hindering progress in finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. ACT UP accused pharmaceutical companies of prioritizing profits over saving lives and called on the government to increase funding for AIDS research and access to affordable healthcare for those living with HIV.

The demonstration received national attention and helped to bring the issue of HIV/AIDS into the mainstream media. It also led to increased funding for AIDS research and improved access to medication for those living with HIV/AIDS.

In the end 17 protestors were arrested.

Overall, the Wall Street protest was a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS and demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to effect change

ACT UP’s flyer for the event listed its demands:


Come to Wall Street in front of Trinity Church at 7AM Tuesday March 24 for a


To demand the following

1. Immediate release by the Federal Food & Drug Administration of drugs that might help save our lives.

These drugs include: Ribavirin (ICN Pharmaceuticals); Ampligen (HMR Research Co.); Glucan (Tulane University School of Medicine); DTC (Merieux); DDC (Hoffman-LaRoche); AS 101 (National Patent Development Corp.); MTP-PE (Ciba-Geigy); AL 721 (Praxis Pharmaceuticals).

2. Immediate abolishment of cruel double-blind studies wherein some get the new drugs and some don’t.

3. Immediate release of these drugs to everyone with AIDS or ARC.

4. Immediate availability of these drugs at affordable prices. Curb your greed!

5. Immediate massive public education to stop the spread of AIDS.

6. Immediate policy to prohibit discrimination in AIDS treatment, insurance, employment, housing.

7. Immediate establishment of a coordinated, comprehensive, and compassionate national policy on AIDS.

President Reagan, nobody is in charge!



The first few minutes of the clip below from Fight Back Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP and the tweet from ACT UP below is the only remaining footage of the first protest.

Fight Back Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP clip from Frameline on Vimeo.