Republican National Convention Protests

young republican kicks woman below

AIDS activists disrupt Speech of White House Chief of Staff

Wednesday, September 1, 2004   

The activist group that staged the first protest in front of the Republican National Convention venue by “telling the naked truth,” has moved the issue of the Bush global AIDS policy to the forefront once again today. Members of the group ACT UP have just now dramatically disrupted the speech of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card to the Youth Convention at the Republican National Convention (RNC). The activists stripped off their outer shirts to reveal t-shirts emblazoned with “Bush lies. Stop Aids. Drop the debt now.” Chanting the same message and blowing whistles, the activists succeeded in disrupting Card a minute into his speech. Many of today’s participants were part of the group who “bared all” in front of Madison Square Garden last Thursday pressing for changes in the Bush Administration’s AIDS policies. The activists were taken away by security.

“We continue to call on the Bush Administration to support cancellation of the global debt owed by poor countries to international banks and donor countries,” said Sharonann Lynch of ACT UP. “Right now, sub-Saharan African nations are pouring $15 billion a year into repaying debt to wealthy nations. That money could and should be used to provide treatment to the millions of people on the continent living with HIV/AIDS. The Bush Administration must move to save the lives of people in the world’s poorest countries by supporting 100% debt cancellation now.”

The group is challenging the Bush Administration to join with other members of the Group of 7 industrialized countries in supporting debt forgiveness for at least 50 of the world’s poorest nations. At their most recent summit in June, the leaders of the G8 discussed a proposal for 100% cancellation of debts owed by some poor countries to the IMF and World Bank.

“On October 1, the finance ministers of these economic powers will be meeting in Washington to consider the issue of debt cancellation,” continued ACT UP’s Mark Milano. “We call on President Bush to make his commitment to the world’s poor clear during the Republican Convention and announce U.S. support for lifting the burden of debt from the backs of these countries. The nations of Africa are spending approximately $15 billion a year on repayment of debt. The sooner debt cancellation becomes a reality the sooner these countries will be able to redirect some of that spending to alleviating the most deadly health threat facing the globe…the scourge of AIDS.”

In addition to debt cancellation, the group is also demanding that the U.S. live up to its commitments to the Global Fund. Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias announced earlier that other nations are being given until the end of this month to match the U.S. contribution to the Fund so that the final U.S. $120 million can be released.

“This administration has demonstrated its disdain for multilateral cooperation on most foreign policy issues. The Global Fund is one of the most blatant examples. While the Fund requested a contribution of $1.2 billion, the Bush White House only asked Congress for $200 million. Congress upped the amount to more than $500 million, but restricted giving to 33% of the total fund receipts by July 30th. Mr. Tobias extended that deadline to September 30th. We are demanding that the U.S. give other nations until the end of 2004 to meet their commitments to the Fund which is the best hope of getting treatment to people living with AIDS around the world,” concluded ACT UP’s Lynch.

see also:


DROP THE DEBT –– There are two resolutions in the House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology that are related to this drop the debt issue. HR 4560 is sponsored by Henry Hyde. HR 4793, also known as the "Jubilee Act," is sponsored by Maxine Waters and cosponsored by 17 people, including Spencer Bachus (R from AL).  People should contact their Representative in the House and get them to cosponsor the Jubilee Act.  The G-7 finance ministers meet on October 1st.  
GET INVOLVED NOW    see also

The Nation  The Online Beat  by John Nichols

Bringing the Protests to the Republicans        September 2, 2004  @  12:19 AM

NEW YORK -- During a week of protests against President Bush and the Republican National Convention that he will address tonight, demonstrations have taken many different forms -- from singing Johnny Cash songs to waving pink slips to a mass flashing of bikini underwear featuring anti-Bush slogans.

But only one demonstration has actually taken place so far on the floor of Madison Square Garden, where Republicans -- including White House Chief of Staff Andy Card -- were confronted Wednesday with the reality that they are not exactly welcome in this overwhelmingly Democratic city.

The Republicans did not take well to the challenge.

Roughly a dozen AIDS activists infiltrated a mid-day gathering of Young Republicans on the floor of the Garden. The activists sat quietly amid the Wisconsin and Nevada delegations as the Youth Convention got underway.  Then, moments after First Daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush introduced Card to a hundreds of Young Republicans, the activists peeled off their street clothes to reveal t-shirts that read "Bush Lies" and they held aloft signs that read, "Bush: Stop AIDS. Drop Global Debt Now."  They jumped on their chairs and began blowing whistles and chanting "Bush kills" and "Bush lies."

Instantly, the activists were surrounded by jeering Young Republicans, some of whom pushed and shoved the demonstrators while others tried to drown out the message of the AIDS activists by chanting the convention's ubiquitous "Four more years" slogan. The Republicans held signs up to prevent television cameras from capturing images of the signs held aloft by the demonstrations.  It was a raucous scene. Card attempted to go ahead with his speech but was forced to stop briefly because of the noise. The demonstrators were quickly dragged from the hall by Secret Service agents and police officers, and police later said there was at least one arrest.

The point of the demonstration, according to Sharonann Lynch of ACT UP, was to demand that the Bush Administration support cancellation of the global debt owed by poor countries to donor countries and international banks.  "Right now, sub-Saharan African nations are pouring $15 billion a year into repaying debt to wealthy nations," explained Lynch. "That money could and should be used to provide treatment to the millions of people on the continent living with HIV/AIDS. The Bush Administration must move to save the lives of people in the world's poorest countries by supporting 100 percent debt cancellation now."

Specifically, the activists want the United States to join other industrialized nations in supporting debt forgiveness for the planet's poorest nations, so that those nations can direct more resources to fighting AIDS.  ACT UP activists also want the U.S. to meet its commitments to the Global Fund for fighting AIDS. "While the Fund requested a contribution of $1.2 billion," explained ACT UP's Lynch, "the Bush White House only asked Congress for $200 million."

> Incredible protest, but horrible footage, including deliberate violence
> by a young Republican kicking a woman protester while
> down on the ground.
            SEE BELOW

  ABC Channel 7 News   six o'clock broadcast
Young Republican Kicks Woman Protester".
streaming Windows Media  LINKED HERE. (not MAC friendly media)

  QUICKTIME MOVIE     (shorter News Clip)


   see additional News from inside Young Republicans Convention

posted on indymedia.

The response to today's action by the Secret Service and the NYPD was abhorrent. The demonstrators were physically manhandled by the police. Many hours later, we have not been able to determine the status of the 11 persons arrested.  More than 10 AIDS activists were arrested on the floor of the Garden, holding up signs and a banner during a RNC youth convention. They were held in jail more than 30 hours, and face multiple charges in court.  The Secret Service, and especially the young Republican delegates, surrounded the activists that morning and created the melee that led to the injury cited below, not the activists -- trained in non-violent civil disobedience -- who were calling on the Bush Administration to drop the debt for developing countries to fight AIDS.

Associated Press    by Anne Gearan  
AIDS Activists Disrupt Convention Event

NEW YORK – AIDS demonstrators disrupted a Republican youth gathering on the floor of the party convention Wednesday, shortly after President Bush's twin daughters left the stage. The incident occurred after Jenna and Barbara Bush introduced White House chief of staff Andrew Card. As he began speaking, about 10 protesters sitting in the crowd jumped up, blew whistles and began to chant, "Bush kills" and "Bush lies." Card tried to continue speaking, but was drowned out and stopped as young participants in the morning event scuffled with the demonstrators. Police moved in to remove the protesters, including a young woman hoisted out by two officers - one at her shoulders and one at her knees.

The Associated Press also reported  
At least one delegate was slightly injured. Suhr Daniel, 20, of Milwaukee, said he was punched in the head by a protester. He had a cut near his temple and the side of his face was reddened.

ACT UP Members Refute False Accusation of Violence on the part of AIDS Activists -- Roughed Up During Convention Protest


September 1, 2004   Police and Secret Service agents at the Republican National Convention responded with violence to a non-violent protest by AIDS activists today. ACT UP members staged a non-violent protest holding a banner and chanting “Bush Lies, Drop the Debt, Stop AIDS Now” during a speech today by White House Chief-of-Staff Andrew Card, demanding that the Bush Administration reverse its opposition to 100% debt cancellation for Third World Countries devastated by the AIDS crisis. The protest was met with violence on the part of officials responding to the action, as well as youth delegates attending the conference. Bystanders on the conference floor have also refuted claims that a delegate was punched by the demonstrators.

“I was standing right next to the chanting demonstrators,” said Kaytee Riek, who was not part of the demonstration. “All of a sudden, men in suits with earpieces started pushing and shoving people and dragged the protesters over and through two or three rows of chairs. They then violently threw them to the ground and handcuffed them.”

While a convention delegation claims a demonstrator injured him during the protest, eyewitness accounts strongly refute those reports.

“I was close to the person who was supposedly punched by one of the demonstrators,” said Cindra Feuer of New York. “Once the demonstration started, delegates from a couple of nearby rows of chairs started punching the demonstrators and throwing elbows. I asked the man who was hurt if he was okay and he said: ‘Yes. Elbows were flying and I just got caught in the middle of everything.’ After that, police started urging him to consider filing assault charges against the protesters and seeking medical assistance which he maintained that he did not need. I was surprised to hear those inaccurate reports that the demonstrators initiated the violence.”

ACT UP expresses outrage at this increase in the mean-spiritedness and heavy-handed arrest techniques being employed by the New York Police Department, the Secret Service and other security agencies.

Contact:   Robert DABNEY (215) 888-3776
               Asia RUSSELL (267) 475-2645
               Kaytee RIEK (202) 302 7237

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     September 2, 2004     WEBSITE

Scuffle and arrests as activists get onto floor
Youth Convention delegates shout back, ‘Four more years’
  by Jonathan E. Kaplan 

AIDS activists who gained entrance to Madison Square Garden yesterday were arrested after a rough scuffle with security officers and GOP delegates after a carefully planned protest on the convention floor.

ACT-UP, which claims six protesters were arrested, was still trying to locate four or five of them, said Asia Russell, who is providing legal advice to the protesters. Secret Service officials did not return calls for comment.

It appears that 15 protesters, some of whom were there to aid colleagues rather than to demonstrate, waited until President Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, began speaking to the morning session of the 2004 Youth Convention. Only minutes before, President Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, had been at the podium.

The protesters sat quietly, talking with college students on the floor and professing support for Bush, according to ACT-UP members who spoke to The Hill and had participated in the protest. After Card began speaking, one of the protesters blew a whistle and they screamed and ripped off their shirts to reveal signs that read, “Stop AIDS, Drop Global Debt Now.”

ACT-UP wants the Bush administration to drop the debt that Third World countries owe the International Monetary Fund and World Bank so that they can more effectively fight AIDS.

“It’s very strategic, when we interrupted. We wanted to target a policymaker,” said Deb Baron, a New York City resident and volunteer in a support role on the convention floor, who was sitting with the California delegation.

The demonstrators gained entrance by securing credentials when they showed up at an event for the College Republicans earlier this week. Baron and others said that all she had to do to acquire a yellow pass was to provide her name, date of birth and Social Security number.

“They were not even checking identification,” she said about entering Madison Square Garden.

After the initial shock, Secret Service officers, convention volunteers, cameramen and reporters converged on the area to the left of the stage where the protesters were standing on chairs. Delegates began chants of “Four more years, four more years” to drown out the protesters’ message.

Some protesters were handcuffed. Others were physically restrained and hustled out of Madison Square Garden amid aisles strewn with torn newspapers and signs. A cameraman complained that one protester had damaged a camera.

A young Republican delegate said he was punched in the face and slightly injured, an account that was vigorously disputed by some protesters.

Daniel Suhr, a student at Marquette University, was sitting in front of a group of the ACT-UP protesters. A friend sitting next to Suhr, who is part of the page program for young volunteers at the convention, said a man hit Suhr when he turned around to see what was happening. The Secret Service escorted Suhr to a medical facility inside the Garden to treat a swelling on his face.

Two protesters said that ACT-UP, which stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, is a nonviolent group and that delegates were throwing punches in the scrum that developed.

In two days of relatively calm protests and yesterday’s day of civil disobedience, none had come near Madison Square Garden, and the incident raises security concerns for delegates and law-enforcement officials. One protester managed to get onto the convention floor Tuesday night, but yesterday’s ACT-UP disturbance appears to have been the first involving a group in a concerted effort.

THEY GOT THE WRONG GUY   September 7, 2004  Newsday

As editor of the student newspaper, Malverne Mule, Benjamin Traslavina thought the protest by the AIDS activist group, ACT UP, would make a good photo for his article on the convention for his paper, and moved in to take a picture.

That's when the Secret Service grabbed him and turned him over to New York police. "At every step of the way, I told just about everybody that I wasn't part of the protest," Benjamin said. "I was extremely frightened when I was informed of the charges." Now, he is worried that the felony arrest could mar his chances for college.

The ACT UP protesters told authorities that Benjamin wasn't part of the group, he was taken away in metal handcuffs. They took his camera and threw away his film. Meanwhile, friends contacted his Mother, who was frantically looking for her son. She didn't find out where he was until midnight, when a police officer let Benjamin make a call from his cell phone.  "I couldn't get any information," his mother said. "For 12 hours we didn't know where he was. It was like he vaporized."

Benjamin was then taken to 100 Centre Street, still with the ACT UP protesters. There, he was moved from holding cell to holding cell.  By Thursday afternoon, he was allowed to meet with a lawyer from the Lawyer's Guild. He found out the charges against him -- a felony for inciting a riot, a misdemeanor for assault and a violation for disorderly conduct.  Benjamin was arraigned and released without bail to his parents about 4 pm Thursday. 

Although this news story is about another AIDS action one week
later, it is indicative of how the Secret Service treated these protesters.

"Officially, the Secret Service does not concern itself with unarmed, peaceful demonstrators who pose no danger to the commander in chief. But that policy was inoperative here Thursday when seven AIDS activists who heckled President Bush during a campaign appearance were shoved and pulled from the room -- some by their hair, one by her bra straps -- and then arrested for disorderly conduct and detained...."  The Washington Post

Young Republican :  Kicking a woman when downed

ABC Channel 7 News documented a "young Republican" attacking a non-violent asian female protester. One can clearly see in the video that this "young Republican" grabs her sign and helps pull her to ground... then he kicks her when she is down.  Two security men are already holding her down. The kicking was senseless violence. The News Reporter was so appalled by what she saw, that she confronted him in an interview afterwards.


ABC Channel 7 News reporter interviewed
this unnamed "young Republican," saying that
cameras show him kicking a protester.

Reporter: We actually have you on camera kicking one of the protesters.
Young Republican: ...
[no answer].
Reporter: Did you kick one of the protesters?.
Young Republican: I...don't...believe so. I dunno.
Reporter: We have you on camera kicking one.
Young Republican: Hmmm.

ABC Channel 7  Newscast  at 6 o'clock

SEE NEWSCAST LINKED    requires windows media player 
not mac computer friendly
SEE QUICKTIME MOVIE     shorter newscast version.   
ABC Channel 7 News at 11 o'clock
wrongly named this woman-kicking
'young Republican' as Taylor Bickford–
We regret this mistaken identification.





ACT UP Activists Face Assault & Riot Charges for Protest Inside RNC

September 3rd, 2004 -- Eleven members of the AIDS group infiltrated a talk by Andrew Card on Wednesday. The non-violent action led to mayhem on the floor of the Republican Youth Convention. Video has emerged showing a Republican knocking down an ACT UP activist and then kicking her repeatedly. No charges have been filed against him instead the victim and 10 other activists face years in jail for staging what was supposed to be a non-violent action. We talk to one of the arrestees.

Eleven AIDS activists from the ACT UP group were arrested Wednesday after they breached the Madison Square Garden convention hall and briefly interrupted a speech by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card to young Republicans. They have now been charged with assault and inciting a riot. But a report on Channel 7 WABC raises questions whether the activists themselves were the victims of assault -- this is how WABC reported the incident on Wednesday.

Kris Hermes, member of ACT UP Philadelphia, was one of eleven members of ACT UP to be arrested for disrupting a presentation by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card during the Republican Youth Convention on Wednesday. The 11 are facing charges of assault and inciting a riot.


JUAN GONZALEZ: On Wednesday, 11 AIDS activists from the group ACT UP were arrested after they breached the Madison Square Garden convention hall and briefly interrupted a speech by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card to Young Republicans. They have now been charged with assault and inciting a riot.

AMY GOODMAN: We are joined now by Kris Hermes who is a member of ACT UP Philadelphia. He was among the members of ACT UP to be arrested. Describe the protest.

KRIS HERMES: Well, we entered the convention to expose the naked truth about Bush's policies on AIDS, and to urge him to call for 100% debt cancellation for at least 50 of the poorest nations in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you do exactly?

KRIS HERMES: Well, we sat on the floor in the New York delegation area and when Andrew Card began to speak, we blew whistles, stood up on the chairs, and chanted and held signs. There was a banner that was attempted to be unfurled, and then proceeded to be assaulted by Young Republicans.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean? You continued to be assaulted. Because the charge is the other way around.

KRIS HERMES: Yeah. Unfortunately, there were no Young Republicans that were taken off with assault charges. However, we were not able to stand on the chairs for more than probably a minute before we were assaulted by Republicans around us.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now there were some camera video that showed one, at least one of the Republican young people kicking someone who was down. Kicking him repeatedly and admitting to kicking the person repeatedly.


AMY GOODMAN: Well Juan, let's go to the Channel 7 report on WABC. They were there. They filmed this. This is their report. This is how they told the story on Wednesday. WABC's report:.
"The White House Chief of Staff had just taken the stage when chaos erupted on the floor of the Republican Youth Convention. At least 10 protesters ripped off their shirts and coats to reveal anti-Bush signs. They unfurled a black banner criticizing Bush's AIDS policy, as the crowd and the secret service closed in. Within seconds, the violence had begun. One young man was pushed off his chair. And we caught one Young Republican on camera shoving a female protester. He doesn't stop there. Watch. He's kicking her over and over as she falls to the floor."

AMY GOODMAN: That report from WABC. That's very different from what the police account of this is, and they have the video documentation for those who are listening on radio right now. Kris? So how many of you were charged?

KRIS HERMES: There were 11 of us charged while doing a protest on the floor. We are part of the group that was also protesting the previous Thursday in a naked action in front of Madison Square Garden.

AMY GOODMAN: Why naked?

KRIS HERMES: We wanted to bring attention to Bush's policies on AIDS by explaining that the naked truth is that he is not doing what's necessary to address the pandemic that's killing millions of people on the planet.

JUAN GONZALEZ: How long were you held, and what were you charged with?

KRIS HERMES: I was held for approximately 30 hours, and I was charged with inciting a riot, assault, and disorderly conduct.

City Arrest Tactics, Used on Protesters, Face Test in Court   New York Times  September 17, 2004
Throughout those sessions, the judge and the defense lawyers repeatedly asked why people charged with such minor crimes were being held for so long. Near midnight on Sept. 2, five protesters were still in custody. Mr. Cardozo urged the judge not to order their release. Unlike most of those arrested in demonstrations, they had been accused of felonies - riot and assault. Using authentic credentials, they were among a group of 12 who got onto the floor of Madison Square Garden and disrupted a speech by a White House aide.  Mr. Cardozo, the City's top prosecuting lawyer, said, "I would also like to say that these are very serious offenses. Some of the people were seen on national television. There was a serious threat in Madison Square Garden."  Their cases turned out to be not all that grave. By the next morning, the Manhattan district attorney's office had decided to drop the riot and assault charges. All that remains of the original charges, according to Robert Gottlieb, a lawyer representing a number of protesters, is disorderly conduct.

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