HUGE ALBANY AIDS DEMONSTRATION ~ APRIL 9th, 2002 ~ Arrests were optional

Dozens of AIDS groups are fighting in Albany for $12 million in new state AIDS funding targeted directly at the needs of communities of color. This would be the largest increase in AIDS funding in the past decade.

Housing Works, NYAC, Harlem United, the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the Latino Commission on AIDS, People of Color in Crisis and others are planning a large demonstration and civil disobedience on Tuesday, APRIL 9 in Albany, before the state budget is final.

The groups involved are aiming for 500 people to take part in the demonstration and for a civil disobedience/direct action on the steps of the Capitol with over 150 people to be arrested. We have pledges from dozens of legislators, ministers and executive directors to take part in the direct action and be arrested.

The arrests will be negotiated with the Capitol Police, and we expect that people will be released within two or three hours with misdemeanor charges.

We will arrange lawyers for all arrestees, who will negotiate reduced or dropped charges for an expected court date a week or so later. This is a fairly "easy" arrest, so those staff and clients who have been thinking about doing direct action should jump right in. CD trainings will include information on how to check warrant status, etc. for those who may be at risk.

Charles King of Housing Works and other EDs will lead Civil Disobedience/Direct Action training across New York during the month of March. Four trainings are currently scheduled:

Housing Works 594 Broadway:
Thursday, March 14, 3:00 - 5:00 * 6th Floor

Housing Works 743-749 East 9th Street:
Friday, March 15, 3:00 - 5:00 * Downstairs Dining Room

Housing Works 320 West 13th Street:
Thursday, March 21, 3:00 - 5:00 * Large Conference Room

Housing Works East New York 2640 Pitkin Avenue Brooklyn:
Friday, March 29 3:00 - 5:00 * Cafeteria

Additional trainings will be scheduled Uptown, in the Bronx, on Long Island, at People of Color in Crisis in Brooklyn, and in Albany. Other locations considered if enough interest is expressed.

For more information on the action, contact Michael Kink or Mark Hayes in our Albany office at 518-449-4207 (kink@housingworks.org or hayes@housingworks.org) or terri smith-caronia at x1296 at 594 Bway.


New York AIDS Activists and Lawmaker Demand Increase in State Budget for HIV/AIDS Services in Albany Protests

Hundreds of demonstrators yesterday protested at the New York State Capitol building in Albany demanding an increase in the state budget for funding of HIV/AIDS programs, AP/Newsday reports (AP/Newsday, 4/9). Sixty-one of the approximately 300 protestors, including Assembly member Roger Green (D), blocked the door to the Capitol as part of the protest and were arrested for "disorderly conduct," in what Albany police called "the largest civil disobedience act" there in more than 10 years (Coppola, Newsday, 4/10). The protestors called for the Legislature to restore $7.9 million in funding for the New York State Department of Health's AIDS Institute, which provides counseling and testing among other services, and $10 million for the Homeless Housing Assistance Program that Gov. George Pataki (R) cut in his budget proposal. They also called for $12 million in new funding for programs specifically targeting minority communities. According to state Department of Health spokesperson Kris Smith, an estimated 100,000 to 170,000 New York residents are HIV-positive, approximately 80% of whom are minorities. "When the epidemic had a different color the money was going up and up and up," Latino Commission on AIDS President Dennis DeLeon said, adding, "Now that the epidemic looks like us, the money is going down and down and down" (AP/Newsday, 4/9). Pataki spokesperson Kevin Quinn said that the governor's budget proposal, which provides $108 million in state funding for the AIDS Institute, allots $2.3 billion -- including federal funds -- to HIV/AIDS programs, making it "the highest level of funding in state history" (Newsday, 4/10). Those arrested were freed within hours of the incident (AP/Newsday, 4/9).


Members of Reclaim the Streets New York participated in the state budget CD organized by Housing Works, the New York City AIDS Housing Network, CitiWide Harm Reduction, and countless other groups. Members of the Vieques Support Group and ACT UP New York were also on hand. Armed with makeshift somba drums/ paint buckets and the passion of the global justice movements, we introduced the "This is What Democracy Looks Like" chant to a protest and fight for local poverty.

Members of the New York State Legislature, Black Clergy, a Bhuddest nun, hundreds of people with HIV/AIDS, mostly people of color, and countless poverty burocrats chanted "AIDS Won't Wait for the Budget Debate, AIDS Funding Now!" and "Health Care is a Right, Health Care is a Right!" and "You say Cut Back! We Say Fuck That!" "Cut Back, Fight Back!!!" as we took over the steps of the Legislative Office Building and then blocked the entrances of the Legislature. But more than anything, the calls for a renewed democracy prooved the most urgent of cries. While the action was specifically targeted to monies for AIDS and Homeless services, the subtext was its no longer time to wait, be patient or polite until the military "crisis" is over, until sanity re-enters the fold, until the state says it has decided its done playing with the 9/11 excuse, rejustifying not funding a group of people it was never interested in serving in the first place.

We read "Letter from a Birmingham Jail on the way to the action. The question of patience with a segregationist status quo permeates the essay. Finally, MLK states, " My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is a historical fact that privleged groups seldom give up their privleges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

"We know painfully through experience that freedom is never voluntarily give by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of thosewho ahve not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard "wait." It rings in the ear of every negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

As the global justice movements attempts to find its legs after 9/11, these are good words to remember. It we sit back too long... justice delayed may just become justice denied for yet another generation.

The important thing I saw in the action was that police are again seeing the distinction between activist and terrorist, something the powers that be have tried to neutralize and blur. We were out of jail in three hours, thanks in part to good negotiations by the Housing Works legal folks, and all. ___ --Ben Shepard

HOUSING WORKS NEW YORK STATE AIDS ISSUES UPDATE APRIL 10, 2002 __ email: update@housingworks.org
HEADLINES>>>

1. HUNDREDS RALLY AT STATE CAPITOL TO DEMAND NEW STATE FUNDING TO FIGHT
HIV/AIDS IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND RESTORATION OF PROPOSED AIDS FUNDING
CUTS; 61 ARRESTED IN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

2. ZAP OF THE WEEK: KEEP THE PRESSURE ON! PHONE ZAP ALBANY TODAY ­ CALL
TOP AIDES TO PATAKI, SILVER AND BRUNO!
______________________________________

HUNDREDS RALLY AT STATE CAPITOL TO DEMAND NEW STATE FUNDING TO FIGHT HIV/AIDS IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND RESTORATION OF PROPOSED AIDS FUNDING
CUTS; 61 ARRESTED IN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Over 500 demonstrators from across New York rallied at the State Capitol Tuesday to demand new HIV/AIDS funding for hard-hit communities of color and restoration of proposed AIDS budget cuts. The "Day of Prayer and Action" included a large march, prayer vigils with more than a dozen clergy and a large-scale direct action.

61 protesters were arrested in a civil disobedience action, blocking entrances to the Capitol to send the message: "no new state budget without new funding to fight AIDS in communities of color and full restoration of AIDS budget cuts." Many of the arrestees were first-time participants in civil disobedience. All were charged with disorderly conduct and released with adjournments in contemplation of dismissal; after 6 months without an arrest, the charges will be dropped.

The event drew wide media coverage, include stories on all four Albany broadcast television stations, print stories by the Associated Press, Newsday, prominent photos in the New York Times, Albany Times-Union, Schenectady Gazette and other papers, and radio coverage on New York Public Radio, WGY-AM, and other outlets. Additional stories are expected on the television program "Inside Albany" and in the Albany alternative weekly Metroland. In addition, dozens of papers statewide picked up the AP story and wire photos.

"We took action today because there is a crisis in our state -- 83% of AIDS cases in New York now occur in communities of color," said Keith Cylar, co-President of Housing Works. "Our African-American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American communities are hardest-hit by HIV/AIDS, and we've got to get new resources if we are going to save lives."

"HIV infections among men, women and youth of color are rising rapidly all over the state," said Soraya Elcock, Deputy Director for Prevention, Education & Policy at Harlem United. "We need a state budget we can live with ­ we need new funding and full restoration of the proposed cuts. Money saves lives, period."

"A budget that fails to include restoration of $17.9 million for HIV/AIDS services or targeted new resources will have an devastating impact on the health and well-being of thousands of HIV-positive New Yorkers," said Joe Pressley, Executive Director of the New York AIDS Coalition. "We need both sustained and increased funding to reduce the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in communities of color."

According to preliminary figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIDS cases in New York were up 58% in the last year, with an even higher increase of 125% outside of New York City.

"We haven't had anywhere near enough resources directed at HIV/AIDS in our highest-risk communities for the past ten years," said Dennis DeLeon, Executive Director of the Latino Commission on AIDS. "It's time for action of historic proportion."

"There is no question ­ without action, our people will continue to die," said Debra Fraser-Howze, President of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

Participants in the day's events were unanimous in their support for a funding initiative put forward by the Black, Puerto Rican & Hispanic Legislative Caucus and the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force for $12 million in new state funding targeting HIV/AIDS in Communities of Color. The new funding initiative is supported by dozens of legislators and organizations around the state.

"For our communities, AIDS is ground zero, too," said Assembly Member Roger Green, chair of the Caucus. "In its impact on our people and our families, AIDS is a brutal attack, and we must obtain the resources we need to fight back."

AIDS advocates felt they were on the brink of large state funding increases last year, but after September 11 they found themselves facing funding cuts, not increases. "Filling in cuts is necessary, but it's not enough," said Lakeisha Dandy, Executive Director of the Long Island Minority AIDS Coalition. "We have an explosion of people of color living with AIDS and HIV on Long Island, and the same old funding just isn't going to cut it."

Gary English, Executive Director of People of Color in Crisis in Brooklyn, said that new funding is desperately needed for prevention efforts. "The latest studies show infection rates of over one-third among young African-American men who have sex with men. And infection rates nearly double as teenagers move into their early and mid-twenties ­ we need new prevention resources targeted to our hardest-hit groups."

Assembly Member Peter Rivera, Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, said he would work hard for new funding in this year's budget. "It's a tight budget year, but all of us recognize the urgency of this initiative. Latino and African-American leaders are unified by our communities' needs ­ people are dying, and we must find a way to fight back in this year's budget."

APRIL 9 COALITION: PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS

New York AIDS Coalition * Housing Works * Harlem United * People of Color in Crisis * National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS * Latino Commission on AIDS * New York City AIDS Housing Network * Harlem Directors Group * Long Island Minority AIDS Coalition * CitiWide Harm Reduction * Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies * Steinway Center for Children & Families * J-CAP * Iris House * HIV Law Project * GMHC * Legal Action Center * Haitian Women's Project * Greyston Foundation * Whitney Young CHC * Catch a Rising Star * and many more

ZAP OF THE WEEK: KEEP THE PRESSURE ON TO GET THE FUNDING WE NEED!
PHONE ZAP ALBANY TODAY ­ CALL TOP AIDES TO PATAKI, SILVER AND BRUNO!

Tuesday's rally was a tremendous success ­ but we need to keep the pressure on to get the funding we need in Albany. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO DO THIS PHONE ZAP ­ make three calls to Albany this week:

JOHN CAHILL - Secretary to Governor Pataki 518-474-2951 ABE LACKMAN - Budget Chief for Senator Bruno 518-455-3198 DEAN FULEIHAN - Budget Chief for Speaker Silver 518-455-3786

Give them this message:

"I am a registered voter from (your neighborhood) and the most important
issue to me this year is new funding to fight AIDS. We need $12 million to
fight AIDS in communities of color, we need full restoration of Governor
Pataki's proposed budget cuts, and we need $2 million in funding for AIDS
Adult Day Health Care programs. It's a matter of life and death. Make sure
this funding gets into the budget this year."

FACT SHEET: APRIL 9 "DAY OF PRAYER AND ACTION" TO DEMAND NEW FUNDING TO
FIGHT HIV/AIDS IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND FULL RESTORATION OF PROPOSED AIDS
BUDGET CUTS

The day:

Over 500 demonstrators, 61 arrests ­ largest AIDS demonstration ever in
Albany (prior record was 20-30 arrests for a Cuomo-era protest outside the
State Senate)
Demonstration, Prayer Vigil, Civil Disobedience, Speak-out and Legislative
Lobbying
11:30 AM: March across Empire State Plaza * 11:45 AM: 15 ministers and a
gospel choir * 12:10 PM March to Capitol; 12:15 Demo and arrests at Capitol
(State St.)

The problem:

83% of AIDS cases in New York occur in communities of color
HIV infections among men, women and youth of color rising rapidly all over
the state
AIDS cases are up 58% in New York in the last year
No adequate state resources directed at HIV/AIDS in these highest-risk
communities for the past ten years

Our proposal:

$12.5 million in new State funding to fight HIV/AIDS in communities of
color -- $12 million initiative being proposed by Assembly, $500,000 by
Senate Supported by the Black, Puerto Rican & Hispanic Legislative Caucus, the
Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, and dozens of legislators and
HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organizations Assembly $12M proposal supported
by Caucus Chair Roger Green, Task Force Chair Peter Rivera, Health Committee Chair
Dick Gottfried, Social Services Chair Deborah Glick; Senate $.5M proposal by
Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon Restoration of $7.9 million in AIDS Institute
funding and $10 million in homeless housing funding cut by Governor Pataki in his
executive budget proposal ­ similar cuts proposed every year Gov. Pataki has been in office

__________________________________________________________

The Housing Works New York State AIDS Issues Update is reported, written and
edited by Michael Kink and staff at the Housing Works Albany Advocacy
Center. You can reach Update staff by phone at 518-449-4207, by fax at
518-449-4219, or by email at nysaidsupdate@hotmail.com.

Housing Works provides housing, advocacy and services to homeless people
living with AIDS and HIV and is New York's largest AIDS organization and the
nation's largest minority-controlled AIDS service organization.

see HOUSING WORKS (NYC) WEBSITE

 



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