HIV/AIDS Protesters Arrested Near Zuccotti Park on World AIDS Day

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Roughly 10 people associated with a rally to support housing funding for those living with HIV/AIDS were arrested this morning at the intersection of Broadway and Park Place. Occupy Wall Street members teamed up with the rally's organizers Housing Works, VOCAL-NY and Health GAP to celebrate World AIDS Day, while also protesting Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent cuts to HIV/AIDS housing and services. While Mayor Bloomberg hosted his annual World AIDS Day breakfast uptown, a crowd of around 100 protestors ambled up Broadway chanting, "No More Budget Cuts on Our Backs," "Bloomberg Billionaire" and "AIDS Hurts, Housing Works."

The marchers seemed to diverge into two sections. While a majority made their way into City Hall Park, a group of roughly 20 protesters stood at a crosswalk, stopping traffic. While cabs, buses and vehicles honked their horns, the crowd remained, eventually dispersing to reveal about 10 AIDS activists chained together, donning dark green Robin Hood-inspired tunics and caps with the words "Take It Back" written across a symbol of a bag of money.

"Keep walking, you will get arrested if you do not stay on the sidewalk," shouted organizers of the rally to most of the crowd. The group of protesters teemed on the edge of the sidewalk where Park Place and Broadway meet.

"I guess those are the people who were planning to get arrested," one woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said to a fellow demonstrator. Asked if this was preplanned through the organizations as a whole, the woman replied, "No, but I do think it has become a part of our culture for some people to socially martyr themselves."

The New York Police Department arrived with a van, and proceeded to arrest the chained protesters.

While the protesters seemed to diverge into two groups, they shared a common complaint and mission: to demand Mayor Bloomberg drop his opposition to the NY State Millionaires Tax and to call upon Senator Charles Schumer to support a Financial Transaction Tax on Wall Street in order to generate money for HIV/AIDS housing and other services. According to a press release distributed by Housing Works, Mayor Bloomberg has cute more than $10 million for HIV/AIDS in the past year.

At his World AIDS Day breakfast, however, Mayor Bloomberg highlighted the work the city has done to help New Yorkers know their HIV/AIDS status. Both Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) President Alan D. Aviles accepted an award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the event. According to the city, HHC has tested more than 1 million New Yorkers for HIV since 2005, the year that public hospitals and health centers began to offer HIV testing as part of their routine medical care for people ages 13 to 64.

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