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L.A. Activists Crash Ronald Reagan's 85th Birthday Party

Spring '96

February 6, 1996, 300 demonstrators banged drums, blew whistles shouted through bullhorns and created a very loud and boisterous disturbance about genocidal republican AIDS policy. As Newt Gingrich, California governor Pete Wilson, Colin Powell, other republican leaders and celebrities arrived at Chasen's restaurant for Ronald Reagan's 85th birthday party/fund-raiser they were greeted with signs reading "You killed all my friends" and shouts of "Money for AIDS, not for dining!" Many demonstrators carried signs with a picture of Ronald Reagan and caption; "Over 300,000 US AIDS deaths - SHAME!" Several times the demonstrators surged toward the entrance of the restaurant only to be held back by the West Hollywood Sheriffs.

No Birthdays

Ronald Reagan himself did not attend the event for health reasons. More than 325,000 Americans will not have a birthday this year because of the genocidal AIDS policies initiated by the Reagan Administration and continued today by Republican policy.

During his presidency, Reagan ignored his own Surgeon General and public health advisors, and allowed HIV/AIDS to spread unchecked with no concern for the mounting death toll.

Pete Wilson, another target of demonstrators has vetoed needle exchange 3 times and vetoes compassionate release for terminally ill prisoners with AIDS. He supported proposition 187, which denies healthcare to undocumented residents with AIDS in Calif.

Newt Gingrich was also targeted along with the Republican Party in general for their AIDSphobic policies that continue to promote hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism.

The demonstration was organized by ACT UP/LA, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power. ACT UP has done a good job of keeping AIDS activism alive in L.A. in a time of apathy and the illusion that President Clinton will end the AIDS crisis.

Spoil the Party

A variety of other groups who participated include ACT UP/Ventura, WAC (Women's Action Coalition) Being Alive: People with HIV/AIDS Action Coalition, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and students from UCLA and LA High School for the Arts. Also Radical Fairies, The City AIDS Coordinators office of Los Angeles, members of the West Hollywood City council, some AIDS doctors, and scores of people with AIDS and their supporters.

"We went there to spoil their party, the way they've spoiled our lives," said ACT UP member Pete Jimenez. "This is a warm-up for the Republican Convention next August."

Please contact your local ACT UP chapter to get involved. If there is no ACT UP where you live, you can start one yourself.

ACT UP is a grass roots organization dedicated to the principles of non-violent civil disobedience as a means to force the governments to address the AIDS pandemic.

AIDS is a political disease:
ACT UP for your life!

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.



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