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ACT UP: Enormous Worldwide Attention to New York Demos

September 15, 2004

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Four AIDS demonstrations at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York got hundreds of stories in major print and broadcast media in the U.S. and many other countries, bringing AIDS and debt relief into everyday conversation worldwide.

  • "Naked Truth" demo ("The emperor has no clothes"): On August 26, a few days before the start of the RNC, nine members of ACT UP New York and ACT UP Philadelphia stopped traffic and took off their clothes in front of Madison Square Garden, where the convention would be held. All had "Stop AIDS" and "Drop the Debt" painted on their bodies. They were not arrested for more than ten minutes, while press that had been brought to the scene took pictures. Two others were arrested for draping a banner nearby.

    "Drop the Debt" referred to the debt of poor countries. Every year the world's poorest countries in Africa alone pay about $15,000,000,000 to the richest, often on debts that clearly can never be repaid. This is about the amount of money needed to control AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria throughout the world. On October 1 the finance ministers of the G-7 countries will consider a major debt-cancellation announcement at their meeting in Washington D.C.

  • Still We Rise: On August 30, a coalition of more than 50 New York City community-based organizations -- including Housing Works, NYC AIDS Housing Network, Positive Health Project, ACT UP New York, African Services Committee, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project, Gay Men's Health Crisis, Latino Commission on AIDS and Minority Taskforce on AIDS -- marched on Madison Square Garden. Still We Rise demanded housing for the homeless; immigrants' and welfare rights; health care and HIV services; and justice for those in the court and prison system. The march united many New Yorkers who struggle with more than one of these issues.


  • Inside the RNC: On September 1 eleven demonstrators, mostly from ACT UP New York and ACT UP Philadelphia, disrupted the Republican youth convention on the floor of Madison Square Garden, despite the tightest security at a political convention in U.S. history. They were arrested by the Secret Service after protesting during a speech by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. The activists stood up, blew whistles, unfurled a banner, and chanted, "Bush lies -- Stop AIDS -- Drop global debt now."

  • Grand Central Station: On September 2 about 150 members of Housing Works suddenly converged in Grand Central Station for a demonstration, with balloon banners and a banner drop reading, "America Has AIDS. Our next president must stop the plague." They chanted, "Fight AIDS Not Iraq." Twenty-six were arrested, mostly for refusing to leave.

ACT UP marched with other demonstrations as well, including the Poor People's March.

For photos, stories, and links see

You Can Help

You can help ACT UP and others take advantage of the current momentum and opportunities.

Both ACT UP New York and ACT UP Philadelphia meet every Monday evening. For current information check the Web sites below.

Both need money for legal expenses, and to help move forward with new campaigns. Your contribution goes farther than usual because in these all-volunteer organizations, expenses are low and people are extraordinarily committed. You can donate by sending a check to the addresses below. Also, ACT UP Philadelphia can receive donations through its Web site, using either Paypal or Check the sites for the latest information.

In November 2003 ACT UP was listed as one of the top ten organizations having the most influence for social justice over the last 30 years; the list is at

ACT UP New York, Philadelphia Contacts

Each ACT UP chapter is a separate organization. There is no national office.

ACT UP New York: -- mailing address ACT UP, 332 Bleecker Suite G5, New York, NY 10014.

ACT UP Philadelphia: -- mailing address ACT UP Philadelphia, Post Office Box 22439, Land Title Station, Philadelphia, PA 19110-2439.

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2004 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

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This article was provided by AIDS Treatment News. It is a part of the publication AIDS Treatment News.
See Also
More News on the U.S. Presidential Election of 2004 and HIV/AIDS