Originally published on Advocate.com August 28 2004 12:00 AM ET
Eleven ACT UP members were arrested Thursday after protesting naked outside New York's Madison Square Garden, where the Republican National Convention will be held next week. The AIDS activists were demanding that President Bush carry through on his promises to help HIV-positive people abroad. Chanting "Drop the debt, stop AIDS" and adorned with other slogans painted on their backs, the protesters linked arms and stood naked for about 10 minutes, blocking traffic on West 33rd Street in Manhattan. Other ACT UP members handed out pamphlets to the crowd that gathered. "Countries are spending all the money they have on paying off debt when they could be spending that money on prevention of HIV," said Eustacia Smith, the demonstration's organizer. The activists are urging Bush to ask the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to pardon the debts of sub-Saharan African nations that have been hit hard by AIDS. The arrested protesters were charged with various violations, including disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, and public lewdness.