AIDS Advocates Arrested for Interrupting Speech to Young Republicans at Republican National Convention
Twelve members of the HIV/AIDS advocacy group ACT UP were arrested on Wednesday for interrupting a speech by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card during a Young Republicans meeting at the Republican National Convention in New York City's Madison Square Garden, Reuters reports (McCool, Reuters, 9/1). The advocates blew whistles and chanted "Bush kills" and "Bush lies" when Card began speaking (Washington Times, 9/2). The advocates also stood on chairs and held signs urging the Bush administration to cancel the debts of African countries to help free up funds for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, the Los Angeles Times reports (Zucchino, Los Angeles Times, 9/2). Although Card attempted to continue speaking, he was "drowned out" by the advocates, who "scuffled" with meeting attendees, according to the Washington Times. One delegate said he was punched in the head by an advocate and had a cut near his temple (Washington Times, 9/2). Security officers "dived into the mix" and "grabbed" the advocates as meeting attendees chanted "Four more years" and "USA" in an attempt to "shout down" ACT UP members, according to USA Today. It is unknown how the advocates obtained access to the meeting, USA Today reports (Jones et al., USA Today, 9/2). The "significant" security breach likely will result in increased security at Madison Square Garden, which has been "locked down" for a week, according to WABC/7Online.com (Burkett, WABC/7Online.com, 9/1).
Members of the HIV/AIDS advocacy groups Still We Rise and Housing Works marched within two blocks of Madison Square Garden on Monday "accusing" Republicans of "ignoring the plight" of people living with HIV/AIDS and the poor, Reuters reports. "Today's march is about the reality of the Republicans' compassion agenda," Michael Kink of Housing Works said, adding, "They talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk on AIDS, homelessness and poverty. We have more AIDS, more homelessness and more extreme poverty than we did four years ago." There were no arrests during Monday's protests, which included about 1,000 people, according to Reuters (Fine, Reuters, 8/30).