ACT UP NY Stages New Year’s "Die-In" at De Blasio Inauguration
On Jan. 1, twenty activists from ACT UP NY (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) braved subfreezing temperatures to demand that incoming New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio prioritize HIV/AIDS prevention in his new administration. ACT UP has been trying to meet with De Blasio for months to address his disturbingly vague AIDS platform, but the group's requests have been ignored.
During Tom Farley's four years as Health Commissioner, the NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene neglected infectious diseases like AIDS and Hepatitis in favor of policing soft-drink sizes and smoking. In the Daily News last week, Farley touted the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene's success in prioritizing smoking and soda bans while minimizing the ongoing catastrophic effects of HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community.
"If Michael Bloomberg and Tom Farley had promoted an HIV prevention campaign with half as much gusto and funding as they publicized soda and trans fat bans, there would have been significantly fewer HIV transmissions in 2013," said ACT UP member Brandon Cuicchi.
ACT UP members carried signs reading "AIDS Can’t Wait" and "Commissioner Farley Must Go." Toward the end of the inauguration, AIDS activists joined with dozens of other activists protesting at the event, including Occupy Wall Street activists, for an unplanned rally.
ACT UP member Annette Gaudino held a sign reading "De Blasio: Prioritize HIV/AIDS Prevention" and used the People’s Mic, popularized by Occupy Wall Street, to explain ACT UP’s position to activists and passersby on Broadway.
"We demand that the Mayor and his administration wake up to the reality of the AIDS epidemic in this city and protect future generations... The only thing that’s lacking is political will," said Gaudino.
After Gaudino spoke, an activist talked about the need for police reform in the NYPD and about Bill Bratton, De Blasio’s controversial appointment for Police Commissioner. The speakout was followed by an ACT UP "die-in" during which activists laid down on the sidewalk to symbolize those who’ve died from AIDS.
ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), founded in 1987, is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. ACT UP meets every Monday night at 7 p.m. in New York City at the LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street off Seventh Ave.
For more information, visit ACTUPNY.com, ’like’ them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter at @actupny.