Construction Workers' Rally

1970 | 00:32:34 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | 1/2" open reel video

Collection: Videofreex Archive, Single Titles

Tags: Activism, Documentation, Labor

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Though this video segment bears the title Construction Workers Rally, much more than issues of labor are addressed. On May 8th of 1970, approximately two hundred demonstrating construction workers, mobilized by the New York State AFL-CIO, had attacked 1,000 high school and college students and others protesting the Kent State shootings, the American invasion of Cambodia, and the Vietnam War. In response to this event, which would become known as the “Hard Hat Riot,” several thousand construction workers and white-collared workers marched through New York City on May 11th, May 16th, and again on May 20th, to protest violent demonstrations, as well as Mayor John Lindsey’s perceived mismanagement of the riot on May 8th, and his overall failure to the city and its citizens.

In this tape, the Videofreex take viewers to the ground level of action and debate then unfolding in New York in May 1970. With the advantage of a portable Portapak device and its recording capabilities, the Freex move freely through the crowd, pursuing investigative interviews with demonstrators that span the range of opinions present that day. In addition to gathering a multiplicity of perspectives about Nixon's actions in Vietnam and Mayor Lindsey’s status as a leader, the Videofreex ask each individual to speak about what newspapers they read and why, effectively revealing historical information about Americans' behavior as cultural consumers.

The documenting of the demonstrators and the gathered spectators offers unique insight into the “look ”of a protest in the 1970s, recording the soundscape and energy of the event. We hear demonstrators sing, “Goodbye Lindsey, we’d love to see you go,” and chant “Lindsey Must Go!,” whereas other individuals interviewed by the Freex speak of their commitment and support of the current administration. As a result, this tape offers contemporary viewers a taste of the confusion and excitement felt by those experiencing the events first-hand.

— Faye Gleisser