Photos of the civil disobedience are available online (by Sam Lewis). Video of rally speech by VOCAL-NY leader Jim Lister discussing what it’s like to live with HIV/AIDS on $11 per day in NYC available here.
New York, NY – About a dozen AIDS activists dressed as Robin Hood were arrested during a die-in today calling on Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and congressional leaders to make Wall Street pay to fight AIDS at home and abroad. The civil disobedience at Broadway and Park Place followed a march that began at Zuccotti Park and brought together hundreds of people living with HIV/AIDS and their allies on World AIDS Day.
“It’s a lie when we’re told there isn’t enough money to fight AIDS,” said Felix Rivera-Pitre, a VOCAL-NY leader who is living with HIV/AIDS and currently in a homeless shelter. “The reality is that Wall Street crashed our economy, and now politicians are saying there’s less money for basic needs like healthcare and housing. We need Governor Cuomo to show he’s the governor for all of the people in this state, not just the top 1%, and block tax cuts for millionaires.” Felix was arrested for the second time in two weeks during protests related to Occupy Wall Street.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria recently announced it could not make new grants during the next two years due to broken pledges by donor governments. This will deny millions of people living with HIV/AIDS lifesaving treatment at a time when Secretary Clinton recently declared that it was the US government’s policy to achieve an “AIDS-free generation.” Passing a Financial Transaction or “Robin Hood” tax would generate enough funding to meet our commitment for the Global Fund.
“Science now shows we can end AIDS, and it’s now US policy to have a generation free of HIV/AIDS. The government needs to implement a financial transaction tax on banks to create the necessary revenue needed to make this end of AIDS a reality,” said Michael Tikili of Health GAP.
Mayor Bloomberg has cut more than $10 million for HIV/AIDS housing and services during the past year, plus an additional $3 million more in his November Financial Plan, while opposing the state 30% rent cap affordable housing legislation that would prevent homelessness for thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS. Extending the New York State Millionaires Tax would provide funding to restore HIV/AIDS cuts.
“In fat times and in lean times, Billionaire Bloomberg swings his budget ax at poor people with AIDS. This year we join forces with the 99 percent who are rising up to demand economic justice. People want to live in a society where health care, housing and support services for people with AIDS are considered a priority over bankers’ investment portfolios,” said Housing Works New York City Director for Policy and Organizing Kristin Goodwin.
People living with HIV/AIDS and their allies from Health GAP, Housing Works, Queerocracy, VOCAL-NY, ACT UP New York, the Occupy Wall Street movement and other organizations participated in the march and rally.