On Sunday April 28th, 300 AIDS, healthcare and welfare activists from around the state descended on Governor George Pataki's hometown of Garrison, NY to protest his attacks on New York's social safety net in order to cut taxes for wealthy New Yorkers.
With a $400 million dollar surplus in the state treasury, activists are critical of the elimination of 70% of the drugs formerly provided by the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). The program aids uninsured and underinsured people with HIV/AIDS in obtaining drugs and nutrients needed for their survival.
As police with dogs guarded the governor's country home, activists marched to his front gate and completely blocked highway 9D with their bodies during a "die-in" designed to symbolize the deaths the governor's policies will create. Hundreds deposited letters with their demands in a giant yellow mailbox erected by the protest groups and left by his driveway.
Activists from ACT UP/NY, Housing Works, Women's Health Action and Mobilization, Harlem's Community Health Forum and Citizen Action were united in opposing the nearly $3 billion dollars in cuts that will result from the governor's proposed cuts in New York State's contribution to Medicaid.
Demonstrators also opposed the imposition of time limits and proposed reductions in benefits to people receiving welfare.
According to ACT UP spokesperson John Riley, "It is unconscionable for Governor Pataki to cut access to life extending treatments, healthcare and public assistance to New Yorkers in need in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy."
Protesters contacted the governor to arrange a meeting that day, but their request was ignored.
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