Police Arrest 21 Protesters at Bush Headquarters

by Terry M. Neal and Anne Rittman  washingtonpost.com Staff Writers

Monday, October 18, 2004; 4:12 PM

Police today arrested 21 people and charged them with trespassing for entering the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign offices and chaining themselves to the entrance of the building. Those arrested were among about 100 AIDS/HIV activists who showed up this afternoon at Bush's reelection headquarters in Arlington, Va., to protest White House policies.

"Under the Bush administration, the Ryan White Care Act has been flat-funded as the number of people with AIDS has increased," said Terri Smith-Caronia, director of New York public policy for Housing Works Inc., a nonprofit AIDS/HIV advocacy group that organized the protest. "They have refused to increase the funding to keep up, and that equals a cut in services. It's particularly ironic because it's the law his father signed into law."

She was also critical of Dick Cheney's statement during the vice presidential debate that he was unaware of the sharp increase in the number of black women living with AIDS and HIV. She said some of the protesters who chained themselves to the front of the campaign headquarters were HIV positive.

"These are the women that Cheney doesn't know exists," she said.



PRESS RELEASE
AIDS Activist Coalition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 18, 2004

ACTIVISTS DEMAND ACTION ON GLOBAL AND DOMESTIC AIDS EPIDEMIC,
TAKING OVER BUSH/CHENEY CAMPAIGN HQ IN ARLINGTON, VA


Groups Occupy BC ‘04 Campaign Headquarters to Highlight “Compassion Failure”

(Arlington, VA) – Accusing the Bush/Cheney team of “compassion failure,” AIDS
activists representing groups from across the country marched on the BC ‘04
national campaign headquarters in Arlington, VA today. People living with
AIDS and HIV chained themselves to desks and chairs inside and outside the
campaign offices; six women of color living with AIDS blocked the main
entrance to the headquarters and 15 activists locked down at locations inside
the Bush headquarters. Hundreds more protested outside the offices. The
groups pointed out that while the Bush/Cheney administration has failed to
provide help for people living with HIV/AIDS, the issue has been largely
ignored during this political season.

“On AIDS, Bush and Cheney are all talk and no real action – it’s a compassion
failure,” said Michael Kink of Housing Works. “During the vice presidential
debate, Vice President Cheney demonstrated this compassion failure when he
said that he wasn’t even aware that AIDS was a problem among African-American
women. Right now, AIDS in America is increasing fastest among African-
American women, more than half of all new HIV infections are occurring in
communities of color and they’ve done nothing to stem the tide of the
epidemic. We’ve had 40,000 new HIV infections in America every year during
this administration. And their prevention policies have made it worse, not
better – that’s a compassion failure.”

“Black and Latino communities can’t afford four more years of the Bush/Cheney
policies on AIDS,” said Olivia Brown-Dawson of Housing Works, one of the women
of color living with AIDS who blocked the BC04 HQ entrance in an act of
nonviolent civil disobedience. “They talk about compassion, but they give us
funding cuts to front-line programs that are saving lives. They talk about
compassion but they reject effective HIV prevention measures like clean
needles for drug users, condoms for sexually active youth, and real-world HIV
prevention and health care inside prisons and jails. Their ‘compassion’ is
killing our communities.”

The activists also noted that the issue of AIDS has been mostly ignored during
this year’s presidential campaign.

“We cannot remain silent while Bush/Cheney continues to ignore the greatest
global threat known to humankind,” said Kaytee Riek of ACT UP, Philadelphia,
one of the protesters chained down inside the BC04 HQ. “Bush/Cheney has a
history of failed programs in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. They have
failed to live up to funding commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria, they have failed to provide adequate funding for
domestic HIV/AIDS programs and they have failed to fully support debt
cancellation for the world’s poorest countries. They’ve had a
total ‘compassion failure’ on HIV/AIDS – they talk a lot but they don’t get
the job done.”

Among the issues that the demonstrators highlighted was the fact that the
United States has continually refused to fully fund the Global Fund to Fight
AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, despite repeated requests from the world
community.

“Even while he was telling the United Nations General Assembly the
administration’s compassion lie, President Bush was instructing his foot
soldier Andrew Tobias to reduce the US contribution to the Global Fund,”
continued Riek. “This comes at a time when the Global Fund needs $3.5 billion
in 2005 to fund its lifesaving work in 90 countries. Because of the
compassion failure of Bush/Cheney, the Fund is now looking bankruptcy squarely
in the face. The American people need to know the truth: this administration
has failed at every turn in the fight against AIDS.”

"President Bush can't have it both ways--he can't claim a record of compassion
on global AIDS while arbitrarily slashing funding that the Global Fund
desperately needs," said Mary Shoemaker of ACT UP. "This decision means funds
will be snatched from the hands of people who are facing death without access
to treatment and prevention services in poor countries."

”While Bush/Cheney crisscrosses the country talking about compassion, nearly
250,000 Americans can’t get consistent access to lifesaving AIDS drugs,” said
Kink. “The president asked for an emergency appropriation earlier this year
of $20 million which is not enough to stem the growing tide of people joining
the waiting lists for state-run drug programs. People are dying because they
cannot get access to treatment. How long will the Bush/Cheney compassion
failure be allowed to result in the deaths of people living with AIDS?”

Contact for more information:
Michael Kink (on site) 518-527-2787 / kink@housingworks.org
Sharonann Lynch (on site) 646-645-5225 * Robert Dabney (267) 467-4683 /
bdabneyjr@aol.com


AIDS Activists Get Jail Time from Arlington County Judge for October CD at Bush/Cheney HQ

On Friday, January 7, twenty AIDS activists were convicted of criminal trespass in Arlington, Virginia -- with eight of them sentenced to 30 days in jail -- for the October 18 civil disobedience action at Bush/Cheney national election campaign headquarters...

Read the rest: "AIDS Activists Get Jail Time from Arlington County Judge for October CD at Bush/Cheney HQ"

 

 

 

 


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