NYPD Arrests AIDS Advocates Outside of RNC Venue for Naked Protest of Bush's HIV/AIDS Policies
August 27, 2004
Police on Thursday arrested 11 members of the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP for demonstrating while naked outside of Madison Square Garden in New York City, where the Republican National Convention will take place next week, the Washington Times reports (Pierce, Washington Times, 8/27). The HIV/AIDS advocates were "demanding that President Bush make good on his promise to help HIV-positive people" in developing countries, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. The men and women stood naked for about 10 minutes, blocking traffic on West 33rd Street and chanting, "Drop the debt. Stop AIDS." The demonstrators also had the slogans painted on their backs. Dozens of other ACT UP members handed out pamphlets to the crowd, according to the AP/Newsday. "Countries are spending all the money they have on paying off debt when they could be spending that money on prevention of HIV," Eustacia Smith, the demonstration's organizer, said. Minou Arjomand, a Columbia University student who passed out fliers, said that although Bush had asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to pardon Iraq's debts, he has not asked the agencies to pardon the debts of sub-Saharan African countries that cannot afford to pay for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, according to the AP/Newsday. The demonstrators were charged with various violations, including public lewdness, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment (Dobnik, AP/Long Island Newsday, 8/26). New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) later joked about the protest, saying, "This is New York. Of course, we had seven naked people on Eighth Avenue. What's the question?" (Epstein et al., New York Daily News, 8/27).
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