ACTUP Capsule History 1991


January 7, 1991: Hundreds demonstrate outside the Manhattan Criminal Court building on "Judgment Day" while six activists from "Stop the Church" are sentenced. The hostile judge convicts the 'Safe Sex Six' but compares them to Gandhi and Martin Luther King and given sentences of community service rather than six months in jail.

January 16, 1991: Lead by the YELL (Youth Education Life Line) Committee of ACT UP, activists and high school students demand immediate approval of the condom distribution plan proposed by Public School Chancellor Fernandez. YELL and the students also demand that the "counseling" and parental consent portions of the plan be withdrawn and replaced with a revised AIDS education program that deals honestly with AIDS transmission, prevention and sexuality.

January 23, 1991: ACT UP declares a "Day of Desperation" in New York City. This action, designed to target every aspect of City life, demands that everyone realize that every day is a day of desperation for those in the AIDS community. Day of Desperation begins when activists invaded PBS and CBS Evening News broadcasts on the night of the 22nd. On the 23rd a morning demo begins on Wall St. and more than 2000 protesters marched with coffins that were delivered to City, State & Federal officials responsible for perpetuating the AIDS epidemic. An action at the State Office building in Harlem demands an end to the City homeless shelter system. The housing Committee joins Stand Up Harlem, Emmaus House and various Harlem religious leaders in protesting the lack of housing and services for people with HIV. The march goes down Martin Luther King Blvd. to the State office Bldg, carrying coffins with a demonstration at the plaza. Several people are arrested. The Latino/a Caucus invaded the Bronx Borough President's office; the Alternative and Holistic Committee videotapes Dr. Emilio Carillos as he promises to add immuno-enhancing nutritional programs and acupuncture to City hospitals. At 5:07 pm, Grand Central Station was the setting for a spectacular and massive act of civil disobedience as ACT UP took over the station. A banner announcing "One AIDS Death Every Eight Minutes" was hung over the arrivals board. 263 people are later arrested as the group attempted to march to the United Nations.

February 5, 1991: Three ACT UP members are arrested in front of Cardinal O'Conner's residence and charged with bias-related felonies for spray painting "O'Connor Spreads Death" on the sidewalk. While in custody, they are subjected to anti-gay verbal and physical harassment by New York City police.

February 11, 1991: An impromptu demonstration protesting the recent police brutality, is held at the Midtown North Police precinct. As the event ends, the police charge unprovoked at the non-violent demonstrators with their night sticks swinging. Three demonstrators are picked off and arrested, including one marshall who is brutally assaulted in police custody. As a result, a working group is formed to address police brutality.

February 27, 1991: ACT UP celebrates one of its most concrete victories against the AIDS virus as the New York City Board of Education vote 4-3 to approve a plan to distribute condoms to high school students in the public schools. ACT UP's Youth Education Life Line Committee was an important part of the coaliti