DC DEMONSTRATION May 20, 2004
98 Arrested in Capitol Hill AIDS Protest
Marchers Seek More Funds for Care, Research
By Karlyn Barker, Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 21, 2004; Page B03
Several hundred protesters marched on Capitol Hill yesterday, and 98 were arrested, during a demonstration that urged the presidential candidates and Congress to do more for people with AIDS.
The marchers, most of whom arrived on chartered buses from out of town, chanted, "Fight AIDS now," and, "Bush is a jerk, condoms work," as they paraded through the streets to Republican and Democratic party headquarters. They then congregated at the foot of the U.S. Capitol for a carefully orchestrated civil disobedience demonstration.
The arrests, on charges of unlawful assembly, came after a crowd of demonstrators lay down in the street where tour buses drop off visitors. A U.S. Capitol Police spokesman said the offense is punishable by a $50 fine.
"We need to get loud," shouted Martin Wiley, a protest organizer from ACT UP Philadelphia. "We need to find a spot of anger for the loss of people to a disease that should have been cured years ago."
photo by Michael Lutzky of the Washington Post
The demonstration, billed as a "Wake Up, Time's Up" protest and a new call to action, was organized and endorsed by dozens of AIDS groups from across the country. Demonstrators carried alarm clocks that they set off during the arrests.
The intent, organizers said, was to send a message that the AIDS crisis is not over simply because there are medications to treat the virus. They said more needs to be done to provide AIDS care, including affordable generic drugs and housing, and to stem the spread of the disease in developing countries and among vulnerable populations in the United States, particularly nonwhite, low-income men.
The protesters called for the federal government to spend billions more on health care and scientific research on HIV treatment and prevention in the United States and abroad.
"We are here in Washington today because our national priorities are screwed up," Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People With AIDS, told the demonstrators. He said President Bush and Congress have spent millions of dollars on the war in Iraq and tax breaks for the wealthy but have not kept pace with the needs of the AIDS crisis.
Federal spending on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program increased from $714 million in 2003 to $749 million this year, and Bush has proposed adding $35 million next year. But about 40,000 new cases of HIV infection are diagnosed each year, according to a current survey, and there are waiting lists for discounted medications that help keep the virus in check.
Yesterday's marchers stopped at the Republican National Committee headquarters first, shouting, "Shame, shame, shame," at what protesters said was the GOP's failure to take the AIDS problem seriously and the emphasis by the Bush administration of abstinence instead of other effective preventive measures, such as condoms.
The protesters then marched to the Democratic National Committee headquarters, where they warned Democrats not to take their votes for granted unless they do more to fight AIDS.
Chairman Terry McAuliffe was among DNC officials who watched the demonstration from the building's office balconies and terraces. Staff members circulated in the crowd, handing out fliers detailing support for AIDS-related programs by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the party's presumptive presidential nominee.
Among the first to be arrested was Leigh O'Donoghue, 43, a social worker from Bethesda who contracted HIV in 1996. She said she is concerned that drugs that help mange the virus are not available to everyone and that current drugs have such side effects as heart disease and liver and kidney damage.
"Whatever happened to finding a cure?" O'Donoghue asked. "If I had cancer, people would have compassion. With AIDS, I get stigma, and that's not fair."
see further information and photographs on
CHAMP (Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project). WEBSITE REPORT OF ACTION
AIDS Community Call to Action:
"HIV WILL NOT DEFEAT US" [ or at least we won't go down without fighting ]
Washington, DC Thursday, May 20, 2004
The AIDS crisis is raging in America and around the world. And as the
crisis pandemic rages, we face barriers to progress: cuts to AIDS
programs despite increasing HIV infection rates in the US, profit-
based restrictions limiting the use of US funds to deal with an
escalating global epidemic, and attacks on objective scientific research.
We must speak out for our lives and communities.
The undersigned groups are issuing this call to mobilize -- publicly
and powerfully -- to protest the injustices that threaten the very
lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, their families and friends.
People living with HIV and their loved ones took to the streets to fight
for prevention, treatment, care, research, housing and a global response
to the pandemic. We will not stand for losing what we have won. There is
still so much to do, and we all know that the AIDS crisis has yet to be
fought on a truly adequate scale. And so we now mobilize once again.
Right now, an unprecedented level of coordination and collaboration has
been constructed between policy groups and grassroots groups, individuals
and large agencies. It is time to take advantage of this energy and
commitment and demonstrate our anger and resolve at a large-scale
When: Thursday, May 20, 2004 * 11:00am
Where: The rally will begin at Folger Park (3rd & D SE - Capitol South
Metro), move to the Republican National Headquarters, continue to the
Democratic National Headquarters and end on the steps of our Capitol.
The rally will include a civil disobedience action led by people living
with AIDS and HIV and the leaders of community organizations on the front
lines of the epidemic.
* The AIDS crisis can end, and it is the responsibility of the President
and Congress to lead the way.
* Our presidential candidates have a responsibility to articulate, clearly
and often, their plans for addressing the greatest health emergency in
* Congress must appropriate the funds necessary to truly confront this
* The next President of the United States must ensure that all people
living with HIV receive immediate and high-quality treatment and care and
that all people receive the means to prevent HIV.
We are asking you to distribute and respond to this call to action.
We ask you to join hundreds of your peers and supporters in this march
and rally. And we ask you to consider participating in the historic,
nonviolent civil disobedience action. Please contact us for further
information and to lend your support.
THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW! WE WILL NOT BE IGNORED! OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT!
March and Rally Contact: Michael Kink, Housing Works
Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Contact: Paul Davis, Health GAP
Original sponsors (list in formation):
Housing Works * National Association of People with AIDS * ACT UP Philadelphia * Health GAP * Project Inform * Being Alive * Global AIDS Alliance * Lifelong AIDS Alliance * American Academy of HIV Medicine * Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) * African Services Committee * SAVE ADAP * Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) * New York City AIDS Housing Network * ACT UP New York * American Medical Students Association * TIICANN * AIDS Treatment Data Network * AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition (ATAC) * New Mexico POZ Coalition * AIDS Survival Project (list in formation)
Housing Works Announcement
THE BIGGEST DC AIDS PROTEST IN A DECADE!
ACTIVISTS, FRONT-LINE PROVIDERS DEMAND CANDIDATES & CONGRESS "WAKE UP -- END AIDS"; CD TRAINING AT HOUSING WORKS, TUESDAY, 10AM
Major AIDS service and advocacy groups from around the country are carrying out final preparations for an angry march and civil disobedience in Washington, D.C. next Thursday, May 20.
Dozens of clients and staff from Housing Works and dozens more from around the country are already committed to taking part in a negotiated civil disobedience action that will likely be the biggest in DC in a decade.
TRAVEL: To get a seat on one of the Housing Works buses leaving New York City Thursday morning, just email Mark Hayes, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CD TRAINING: Charles King of Housing Works will conduct Civil Disobedience training at 10 AM on Tuesday, May 18 at 320 W. 13th Street, 4th floor. If you're interested in maybe getting arrested, you should be there!
The rally will begin at Folger Park (3rd and D, SE), move to the Democratic National Headquarters, then the Republican National Headquarters, and end on the steps of the Capitol.
"Every 11 seconds, someone dies of AIDS," says Charles King, CEO of Housing Works, the nation's largest community-based AIDS group. "This relentless tide of death could be prevented with real leadership and real resources. My anger at this senseless loss is echoed by voices across the country and worldwide?eight percent of voters say that HIV/AIDS is their number-one health issue and that could swing the election."
Organizers say executive directors, presidents and chairs from leading AIDS groups will join other people living with AIDS and HIV, their family members and supporters in nonviolent civil disobedience. Fifty-four AIDS groups are currently supporting the march, including Housing Works and GMHC, the two largest in the nation.
"The history of the AIDS movement is marked by direct actions that have galvanized public and private responses to the epidemic," said Terje Anderson, Executive Director of the 21 year-old National Association of People with AIDS. "It's time to put our bodies on the line again -- we've got to wake these folks up."
Marchers will urge the presidential candidates and Congress to take action on specific global and domestic initiatives including:
* Full funding of domestic and global efforts to provide lifesaving HIV medications to millions who can't get them now;
* Full funding of the domestic and global HIV/AIDS public health infrastructure;
* Support of real-world, comprehensive and honest HIV prevention efforts;
* An end to politically-motivated attacks aimed at scientific research on HIV/AIDS
* Full funding for AIDS housing programs
Organizers will urge action on the full set of global and domestic recommendations included in the AIDSVote platform (www.aidsvote.org/platform.html), now endorsed by 187 AIDS groups from around the country and around the world. (AIDSVote.org has requested that all major presidential candidates give them a statement on HIV/AIDS issues; they have received a statement from Senator Kerry; they have not received any statement from President Bush.)
"Bush, Kerry and Congress could take action to end the AIDS epidemic -- we know what it takes to save millions of lives," said Waheedah El-Shabazz of ACT UP Philadelphia. "There are concrete steps within our reach -- full funding of ADAP, Ryan White and AIDS housing programs, $30 billion for global programs using generic drugs, real-world prevention and research efforts -- all of these can be achieved right now."
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