21 AIDS Advocates Arrested Outside Bush-Cheney Headquarters for Protesting Administration’s Domestic, Global AIDS Policies
Police in Arlington, Va., on Monday arrested 21 AIDS advocates who had chained themselves to the front door of the Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters and to each other inside the building during a protest against the administration's domestic and global AIDS policies, the Washington Post reports. Approximately 120 advocates took part in the demonstration, which was organized by the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP and New York City-based AIDS service organization Housing Works. The protest began at about 2 p.m. and lasted 90 minutes, according to police (Rivera, Washington Post, 10/19). The 21 advocates who were arrested included seven participants who blocked the entrance to the building and 14 who "locked down" in various locations inside the office, according to a Housing Works release (Housing Works release, 10/18). After using bolt cutters to remove seven protestors chained to the front door, the police charged the advocates with trespassing, according to police spokesperson Matt Martin. The fourteen people inside the building who were chained to one another also were removed, according to the Post (Washington Post, 10/19).
"We cannot remain silent while Bush-Cheney continues to ignore the greatest global threat known to humankind," Kaytee Riek of ACT UP said, adding, "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" (Housing Works release, 10/18). However, according to Bush-Cheney campaign spokesperson Taylor Griffin, President Bush is "fully engaged in the fight against AIDS" and has tripled funding to countries most affected by the pandemic through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and increased domestic HIV/AIDS research, treatment and prevention funding by 27%, the Post reports.
Reaction to Vice Presidential Debate
Several advocates carried signs that included a picture of Vice President Dick Cheney and a statement that he made during the Oct. 5 vice presidential debate, according to the Post (Washington Post, 10/19). During the debate, PBS news correspondent Gwen Ifill, who moderated the debate, said to Cheney, "I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their [white] counterparts. What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?" Both Cheney and Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards shifted the conversation to foreign HIV/AIDS policy and general health care policy when asked what the U.S. government should do to curb HIV/AIDS prevalence among black women in the United States. Cheney also said he was "not aware" that black women are 13 times as likely to die of AIDS-related causes as white women (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/8). Idell Gillard, an advocate who came from New York for the protest, said, "There are a lot of heterosexual women of color being affected by this. ... They continue to die, leaving their children behind," adding, "The Bush people have continued to ignore this" (Washington Post, 10/19).