Main | Thursday, July 09, 2009

26 AIDS Activists Arrested In Capitol Building's Rotunda Over Obama's Failure To Allow Needle Exchanges

Twenty-six AIDS activists were arrested in the Capitol Building's rotunda this morning in a protest over President Obama's refusal to lift a ban on needle exchanges, something he promised to do during his campaign.
By 10:45, police had arrested 11 men and 15 women. Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said they would all be charged with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct, loud and boisterous. Schneider said the protesters bound themselves together with plastic chains. They then became “really noisy,” she added, and officers decided that they should be arrested. Those arrested are being transported to a processing facility at 67 K St. SW. The activists, who come from a coalition of groups, could be heard yelling “clean needles save lives” as they were being handcuffed. Eustacia Smith, a volunteer with Health Global Access Project, said Obama had made a “number of promises” on AIDS funding and so far had not delivered. Those arrested come from several groups, including Health GAP, Housing Works, DC Fights Back and ACT UP Philadelphia.
Upon his election, Obama's official website read: "The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users." But as late as May this year, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said, "We have not removed the ban in our budget proposal because we want to work with Congress and the American public to build support for this change. We are committed to doing this as part of a National HIV/AIDS strategy and are confident that we can build support for these scientifically-based programs."

John Aravosis:
Let's see...

1. The candidate promised to lift the ban.
2. The Web site reaffirmed his commitment to lifting the ban.
3. The president now refuses to lift the ban.
4. The president actually affirmatively makes things worse by enforcing the ban.
5. The spokesman reiterates the president's support for lifting the ban, some day, once Congress gets around to it.

Sound familiar?
(Photo credit: Bill Clark/Roll Call)

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