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Sat Jun 15, 2019, 12:58 PM

Gay Liberation Front Seen in '69 Radical Protest Video

Film shot by the NYPD’s political surveillance unit at an August 1969 demonstration in Midtown Manhattan shows an early appearance of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) as it joined other left and radical groups.

“The rally and demonstration which was conducted in front of Penn Station on 7th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd streets consisted mainly of speechmaking and the reading of letters from imprisoned GIs by selected leaders of the sponsoring groups,” wrote detectives in a report on the August 2, 1969 demonstration. “In essence all the speeches were geared to condemnation of the US imperialist policy, and the torture and abuse of military prisoners in various stockades around the country.”

The rally and march were held to demand the release of political prisoners and members of the Armed Forces who were being held in military stockades. Among military prisoners, the focus was on the Fort Dix 38 who were 38 prisoners charged with crimes committed during June 5, 1969 rioting at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

The rally and march were produced by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee, Youth Against War and Fascism (YAWF), and the American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). The ASU and YAWF were associated with the Workers World Party (WWP), a group that spilt from the Socialist Workers Party in 1959. The font on the banners, including the interlocked female/ female and male/ male graphics that were GLF’s symbol, are readily recognizable as the work of the WWP.

The three films that detectives shot are silent and last just over nine minutes altogether. The films were digitized by the city’s Department of Records and Information Services, which manages the Municipal Archives. When they shared the films with Gay City News, archivists said they knew only that the film was shot on August 2, 1969.

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Watch the videos at the link.

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