April 6, 2007
WHERE'S THE PIZZA?
Police weren't serving up
refreshments last week.
(Photo: Mark Leydorf)
As we reported last week, the April 29 march and demo commemorating 20 years of ACT UP climaxed with a negotiated civil disobedience action, in which 26 activists were arrested. The protestors lay down in front of an enormous trash truck across the street from the New York Mercantile Exchange—where they were decrying HIV-med price gouging-then were hauled off to jail in waiting yellow paddy wagons.
Immediately there was confusion about where people were being taken. Different officers told attendees that the demonstrators were going to different locations. After hours of driving around Manhattan to locate the locked-up activists, fellow activists found all 26 at the Seventh Precinct jail—also referred to as Pit Street, for its fine accommodations—where they were held for seven to eight hours.
“The police weren’t as nice as they were after UNGASS,” says Johnny Guaylupo, Housing Works’ outreach coordinator, referring to his first-ever arrest last May. (He and other advocates were protesting the United Nation’s vague plan to fight Global AIDS during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session). “That time, they allowed a pizza delivery! This time, we had to ask a number of times just to get bottles of water.”
This was Housing Works Development Director Robert Cordero’s first civil-disobedience arrest, and the experience unearthed a profound memory of late Housing Works cofounder Keith Cylar. “I once asked Keith if he was pissed at me for never participating in civil disobedience and he replied, ‘I'm not mad at you. If you do ever get arrested, it will be because you've gotten angry enough about something to get arrested.’ Well, I definitely caught Keith's spirit last week,” he says.
Most of the demonstrators were released by 9:30pm and charged with one or two counts of disorderly conduct with court appearances scheduled for May 3. (One received a more significant charge after refusing to willingly cooperate with police.) Once freed, activists were met by smith-caronia, who reliably takes care of folks whenever civil disobedience lands them behind bars…and what did she have for the AIDS heroes of the moment? Fresh pizza, of course.