The ARC/AIDS Vigil began on October 27, 1985, when Steve Russell and Bert Franks chained themselves to the Federal Building
on United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. The group was protesting the government's inactivity in respect
to the AIDS crisis. This collection consists of records, notebooks and photographs documenting the first several years of
this continual protest vigil.
The ARC/AIDS Vigil began on October 27, 1985, when Steve Russell and Bert Franks chained themselves to the Federal
Building on United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. A group of supporters gathered to protest the government's inactivity in
respect to the AIDS crisis. Thereafter a dedicated group of vigil "family members" maintained the vigil site for twenty-four
hours a day every day for the next several years. These men and women slept in tents or on the floor (or on an outdoor bed
that blocked the doors of the federal building) and staffed a table that provided educational information and support to the
community. They cooked in a well-equipped kitchen under a tarp, and celebrated holidays such as Thanksgiving and
Christmas with outdoor banquets.
The Vigil set out six "Moral Appeals" which were listed on a large sign by their table: 1) an appeal for a "Manhattan Project,"
the goal of which would be to find a cure for HIV and to prevent the spread of HIV; 2) an appeal to the government to
recognize AIDS-Related conditions (ARC) and HIV infection as critical dimensions of the AIDS crisis: 3) an appeal to the FDA
to allow American physicians to prescribe treatments for ARC, AIDS, and symptomatic HIV infection available to their colleagues
in other countries; 4) an appeal to government officials to publicly condemn AIDS-related discrimination; 5) an
appeal to Congress to abide by the recommendations of the National Commission on AIDS; and 6) an appeal to the CDC,
the NIH, and to doctors to establish proper and equal treatment protocols for the special medical needs of people living
Among the core Vigil members were: Harvey Mauer, Secretary; William Davis, Treasurer; Richard "Smokey" Lorenzo; Gary
Harmon; John Belskus; Frank Richter; Gene Harris; Evan Durant; Jay Young; Randy Lane; Bert Franks; and Steve Russell. On
April 3, 1990, Vigil members signed a revocable use agreement with the city of San Francisco for the use of their space in
the UN Plaza.
4.25 Linear Feet (5 manuscript boxes, 1 carton, and 1 oversized box)
Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
Collection is open for research.