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AIDS awareness event stymied by park-service restrictions

New York City
AIDS awareness event stymied by park-service restrictions

Pride_inthe_city

The National Park Service has imposed severe restrictions on an AIDS-awareness event planned for New York City this Sunday. And the organizers of Pride in the City have called the decision "old-fashioned racism and homophobia."

The National Park Service has imposed severe restrictions on an AIDS-awareness event planned for New York City this Sunday. And the organizers of Pride in the City have called the decision "old-fashioned racism and homophobia." The group People of Color in Crisis organizes the annual Pride in the City, which features booths and musical performers, to help spread the word about safe sex and offer free HIV tests. Last year the event drew some 5,000 people to Jacob Riis Beach in Queens. But this year the National Park Service is capping the number it will allow at 1,500 and is moving the event from the beach to a small ball field. A park service spokeswoman tells the New York Daily News that the agency is enforcing rules that it hasn't in the past "for the safety of all visitors." People of Color in Crisis executive director Gary English says the restrictions are "ridiculous and insensitive," especially because the event has never had law enforcement problems with drugs or violence in its six-year history. "It wasn't like an event that had, you know, a history of a lot of bad incidents," said English. "It's the opposite." After the Park Service announced the restrictions this week, New York politicians jumped into the fray, siding with Pride in the City, including Congressman Anthony Weiner and out city council speaker Christine Quinn. English credits their help and media attention with a partial change of heart by the Park Service, which lifted its initial ban on amplified music. "This is a great country that we have a democracy, and we have the ability to let our legislators know--our elected officials and the administration that runs this national park--that we're not satisfied with their decision," said English. He added that his group will do the best it can to work within the Park Service restrictions this weekend and then immediately begin negotiations for a more satisfactory arrangement for next year's event. (Sirius OutQ News)

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