Democracy Now: ACT UP Activists Detained at 25th Anniversary Protest
In New York City, a number of activists were arrested on Wednesday marking the 25th anniversary of ACT UP — the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power — an international direct action advocacy group formed to challenge the government’s mismanagement of the AIDS crisis. At least nine people were detained after chaining themselves together and blockading a street to call for a tax on Wall Street to fund AIDS services and treatment.
Eric Sawyer, ACT UP activist: “We’ve made a lot of progress since those days when we were here in 1987 for the first protest. We only had one treatment for HIV approved. It was AZT. It wasn’t an effective treatment by itself. There was not enough research happening. There were a number of promising drugs that could be tested that weren’t getting tested. There were no social protections, no anti-discrimination laws. There was no safety net. People with AIDS didn’t have access to Medicaid card, food stamps, to housing. There were no protections for people against getting fired from their jobs, denied insurance, evicted from their apartments, or really to deal with violence that was happening all over against people with AIDS. Their houses were being burned. People were being beaten up. A lot of that has changed, but we still don’t have a government commitment to end the AIDS crisis. We know we could now. We know that if we get people on treatment, their viral load goes away, they become non-infectious. It reduces the infectivity to 97 percent. So we need the funds to get everybody on treatment, not only to keep people with AIDS healthy, but to stop the spread of the virus.”