May 16, 2008
On May 14 Willie Campbell, a person living with HIV, was convicted and sentenced to a 35 year prison term for "harrassment of a public servant" - and spitting on a police officer - in Dallas, Texas. Since the jury determined his saliva to be a "deadly weapon," Campbell must serve half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
As news of his conviction has spread, so has outcry from HIV/AIDS activists and advocates. Hundreds of national and international media organizations have already picked up the story (see links below).
Meanwhile, similar cases are pending elsewhere, including one in Philadelphia involving a man living with HIV who is being held in custody and awaiting trial for biting a person after disclosing he was HIV-positive. Past cases have resulted in convictions, including the 1990 New Jersey sentencing of Gregory Dean Smith to 25 years for attempted murder, assault, and terroristic threats following an incident in which he allegedly bit and spat on guards at the Camden County jail. Smith died while imprisoned in 2003.
CHAMP will open up a space for the community to convene and discuss possible responses. We encourage those outraged by the current injustice in Texas and elsewhere to join the call, share your ideas and discuss possible steps the HIV/AIDS community can take.
Open Forum: A space for the HIV/AIDS community to address the conviction of an HIV-positive man for spitting
Two timeslots to choose from:
Thursday, May 22:
9p - 10p Eastern / 8p - 9p Central / 7p - 8p Mountain / 6p - 7p Pacific
~ or ~
Friday, May 23:
1p - 2p Eastern / 12p - 1p Central / 11a - 12p Mountain / 10a - 11a Pacific
access code: 4272302#
Please RSVP to:
Josh Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org 401-427-7030
Texas jury concludes saliva of HIV-positive man a 'deadly weapon', sentenced to 35 yrs jail, Aidsmap, 16 May 2008
Spitting on Dallas officer gets HIV-positive man 35 years, The Dallas Morning News, 15 May 2008
Prison for Man with H.I.V. Who Spit on a Police Officer, The New York Times, 16 May 2008