This video contains raw footage shot for "Five Day Bicycle Race," a project comprised of live in-studio commentary and taped edited coverage of the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City. Produced by independent videomakers calling themselves The Image Union (including many members of TVTV and Videofreex), it aired on Manhattan Cable for three hours per night for five days during the convention. In this video, civil liberties Lawyer Hal Weiner discusses the implementation of radical loitering laws in New York City during the convention that were designed to deter prostitution. The videomakers also attend a meeting of a feminist group against the new laws. Towards the end of the tape, the videomakers speak with numerous people on the street about their thoughts on prostitution.
00:00Copy video clip URL This video begins with a blue screen.
00:27Copy video clip URL Cut to footage of a few street scenes around New York City. The camera operator gathers numerous shots of strip club and peep show signs. This lasts for several minutes.
03:07Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of lawyer Hal Weiner of Kohls and Weiner Litigation Law Firm in New York. Weiner states that his firm mainly handles civil criminal and civil rights types of cases. He briefly talks about one case in which an arresting officer claimed that a number of women offered to perform sexual acts for money. He talks about the the giant sweeps of arrests that take place during a convention time and states that the true victims are the taxpayers.
05:55Copy video clip URL Weiner talks about a new anti-loitering statute that had been put into effect before the convention had arrived in New York. The statute gives a much wider latitude to police to sweep up and arrest anyone who they thought was in the business of prostitution. Various organizations have been lobbying for the repeal of prostitution and loitering laws. Weiner cites the irony in these lobbyists working for this cause while New York City officials are in the midst of enforcing the strongest anti-loitering law in the country specially tailored for the DNC.
07:10Copy video clip URL When asked who he thinks is behind the new anti-loitering laws, Weiner states, “Well, it’s no one person or group. It’s an amalgam of people–all the people who want to show and portray the city as beautiful and pure and clean, ideally, which it would be nice if it were but it isn’t. No large city anywhere in the world is beautiful and pure and clean that I have ever seen, certainly no Western city–and all have prostitution and all have street walking and all have pornography except maybe Soviet cities where they can effectively regulate anything.”
07:43Copy video clip URL When asked if these measures have cleaned up the city, Weiner says that he doubts they really cleaned up anything. He goes to comment on the difference in sweeping methods for those in attendance for the DNC and others who come for other larger scale events. Weiner and the videomaker continue to talk about the convention and the large surge in street walkers during the convention. Weiner says that he presumes nothing bad will happen and that New York City “isn’t Chicago,” making a direct reference to the fiasco during the 1968 DNC held in Chicago.
10:09Copy video clip URL Weiner states that police officers are currently rounding up prostitutes in “large empty vans.” The women are then brought into custody and can easily spend 3-4 days in jail before their arraignment. Weiner also states that the American Civil Liberties Union had been passing out pamphlets to prostitutes warning them of the stronger loitering laws in effect. This, however, raised the danger of mistaking a delegate’s wife for a prostitute.
11:42Copy video clip URL Weiner talks about the politics behind the implementation of the new anti-loitering laws. He states that city officials hope that those visiting the city will have a more positive impression of New York because of these measures. Weiner goes on to talk about the need to clean up organized crime. He states that organized crime is too entrenched in the city to be remedied in his lifetime. “Organized crime is involved in everything. You can find organized crime involved in street walking. You can find organized crime involved in selling postage stamps outside of the normal postal distributor channels. You might as well ban the sale of hamburger because there’s probably some people in organized crime who sell chop meat, but that is not the answer. The answer is they’re going after symptoms of the disease because they don’t dare go after the disease.” He goes on to say that the new anti-loitering laws will be appealed but that it would not mean very much after the law is taken off of the books once the convention is over.
13:35Copy video clip URL Weiner states that New York Senator Manfred Orhenstein was the original instigator of the anti-loitering bill. Weiner and the videomaker continue to talk about the measures that the city has taken to make the city appear cleaner. Their interview eventually gets cut off.
15:00Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of a porno theater in New York City.
15:28Copy video clip URL Cut to an interview with a group of people. The sound cuts out temporarily. When the sound cuts back in, some of the men talk about Carter’s presidential run. This lasts for only a few minutes.
18:18Copy video clip URL New York resident Carolyn Keelan comments on the new anti-loitering laws. “I just think it’s an unconstitutional law that’s set up to embarrass women in New York City and I think it’s ridiculous. …As a woman I just think that it’s ridiculous that no one is allowed to look at men on the streets these days and that’s what it comes down to. And I enjoy looking at a good-looking man and I certainly have no intention of getting arrested for simply looking. It’s ridiculous.”
19:50Copy video clip URL The videomakers gather footage from a press conference being held over some of the recent cases that have risen out of the new anti-loitering laws being enforced. A woman reads aloud a number of the charges that have been imposed upon numerous New York women. Two black women were charged with prostitution for “waving at white men.” She also states that vice arrests have been up in the past week. Those in attendance will be heading out onto the streets to protest these laws in the near future.
22:15Copy video clip URL A man takes the podium and talks about his experiences working the streets of Midtown Manhattan. He explains that he hasn’t been authorized to speak about his experiences with the group. “I’ve witnessed several times women being picked up for prostitution and the ‘John’ or at least the suspected ‘John’ is right there, you know, within a matter of a few inches. And I’ve actually heard cops say, you know, ‘Get lost.’ And then when I’m looking at their badge and trying to get their number as suggested on those papers, they immediately cover it up.” He goes on to say that he would testify for anyone if anything like that were to happen. We then hear from another woman who explains that there will be decoys from their group out in the field. She also talks about some of the issues involved in this process.
27:13Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of a man outside on a New York street. The interviewer asks the man if he think Carter will win the presidential election. The man responds by saying, “Mr. Carter? Who’s that?” He goes on to say that Carter has a good chance, but that he’d liked to see Ronald Reagan in office. The man also states that he’s not politically inclined.
28:07Copy video clip URL Cut to footage of a trailer for the movie “The Omen” playing on a TV monitor encased in glass outside of a movie theater. The interviewer goes on to ask a few people on the street about their views on prostitution. The sound gets a little choppy throughout this portion of the tape due to the wind hitting the microphone. The interviewer speaks with three men who are passing out flyers for massage parlors in the area. Another man from Nebraska talks about the legalization of prostitution and his support for Jimmy Carter. A Chicago woman condemns the practice of prostitution and also gives her support for Carter. The tape ends shortly afterward.
33:20Copy video clip URL Tape ends.