Activists protest in DC for needle exchange funding Department of Health and Human Services Besieged by Crowd
September 17, 1997
WASHINGTON, DC -- Over five hundred activists descended today upon Washington to protest the Clinton administration's inability to support free needle exchange programs, which have been shown in several recent scientific studies to seriously reduce the rate of HIV transmission.
Activists from Philadelphia, New York, D.C., Atlanta, Baltimore, and elsewhere, rallied at noon in front of the Health and Human Services Building, located three blocks from the U.S. capital. The diverse crowd included activists from community health programs, needle exchange services, Latino Family Services, drug rehab programs, ACT UP, and a sizable contingent of anarchists from the Mid Atlantic region.
Speakers spoke about about their experiences living with AIDS and how Donna Shalala, who is the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and President Clinton needed to take a stand in favor of free needle exchange programs. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted 266-158 to outlaw federal funding of needle exchange programs for drug addicts.
Supporters of free needle exchange programs argue that such programs save lives and prevent the spread of HIV. These claims are supported by new research. Opponents say that such programs promote drug use.
The rally today included a large sculpture of a human spine which was supported by sticks carried by other participants. The spine was said to represent Donna Shalala's inability to take a vocal stand on the issue. The event was also marked by orange smoke sticks and banners carried by groups that had traveled on more than a dozen buses.
As of 1:00 pm the rally had assembled in front of the main doors to the building. A symbolic graveyard was being laid out with signs that noted how many addicts had died from HIV/AIDS in each state. The protest was to go on for most of the afternoon.
Chuck0 for A-Infos News and the Direct Action Media Network
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