San Francisco: Misdemeanor Charges in Treatment Meeting Disruption
May 19, 2000
On May 15 the San Francisco District Attorney's office filed misdemeanor charges against four persons in the April 17 disruption of a treatment information meeting sponsored by Project Inform and Survive AIDS (formerly ACT UP Golden Gate). Charged with misdemeanor assault and trespassing were David Pasquarelli and Andrea Lindsay from ACT UP San Francisco; Michael Bellefountaine and Todd Swindell, also of ACT UP San Francisco, were charged with trespassing. A Project Inform staff person helping to run the meeting was injured in the incident.
"The District Attorney's office is not weighing in on the intellectual/scientific/political dispute," spokesperson Fred Gardner told AIDS Treatment News. "The District Attorney is enforcing the law with respect to public safety and violent conduct."
For more information, see "Treatment Interruption: Experts Sound Cautious Note at San Francisco Forum; Meeting Proceeds Despite Disruption," AIDS Treatment News #341, April 21, 2000; or see a May 16 San Francisco Chronicle article, "4 in ACT UP Charged in Shoving," at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/05/16/MN60185.DTL
For several years the group calling itself ACT UP San Francisco has conducted an organized, well-financed campaign to disrupt AIDS treatment and prevention information in San Francisco, a city which has had more than 18,000 deaths from AIDS. Health organizations have had to pay for security or not hold public meetings; otherwise, medical meetings were turned into shouting or shoving matches, and people with AIDS left in disgust and did not come back. Prevention volunteers have been harassed on the streets, and AIDS workers fear for their safety -- especially women, who seem to have been particularly targeted. Now ACT UP San Francisco and its backers are exporting their campaign to Africa.
"ACT UP San Francisco" has been repudiated by other ACT UP chapters. But the name "ACT UP" was not trademarked, so anyone could use it.
For years the AIDS mainstream seldom answered the "crazies" who say that HIV is harmless or doesn't exist so sexual and other precautions are unnecessary, that AIDS medicines are poisons which cause AIDS, and/or that the whole epidemic is a fraud to make money for corrupt service organizations, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. But today, community opinion is moving toward answering such arguments with scientific and medical facts, exposing misinformation and explaining what is really happening.
And today the community is insisting on zero tolerance for the violence which has been used to promote bizarre ideas by keeping others from being heard.
Copyright 2000 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.
This article was provided by AIDS Treatment News. It is a part of the publication AIDS Treatment News.