Newsday (Melville) (04.26.12) - Thursday, April 26, 2012
AIDS activist group ACT UP commemorated its 25th anniversary
Wednesday by joining Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors for a
demonstration in lower Manhattan. The recently allied groups
are calling for a Wall Street transaction tax that they say
could generate $400 billion annually for the provision of
universal health insurance.
"Today, we have reinvigorated AIDS activism, building this new
coalition with [OWS]," said Eric Sawyer, ACT UP's co-founder.
He said OWS "has been a breath of fresh air for standing up
for social justice. Something ACT UP has always done."
ACT UP, which stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power,
formed in 1987 to advocate for greater access to HIV/AIDS
treatment. "Our first action was Wall Street and protesting
high prices for AZT," said member Andrew Velez.
Wednesday's march from City Hall to South Street Seaport and
back up to Broadway featured some 500 demonstrators holding
signs reading "ACT UP & Occupy" and "Tax Wall Street: End
AIDS." Organizers said 19 people were arrested after they
chained themselves together and then to a lamppost, blocking
traffic near the Stock Exchange.
Sawyer said he believes a tax on stock, bonds, and derivative
transactions to fund health insurance "will happen." He noted
ACT UP successfully lobbied for the creation of the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.