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Charging that the government has not done enough to fight the deadly AIDS epidemic, 21 members of the gay-rights group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Protest (ACT-UP) turned out Monday to protest an appearance by Health and Human Services Secretary Louis A. Sullivan.
Marching outside the Kennedy School of Government's new A. Alfred Taubman Building, where Sullivan was speaking at a dedication luncheon, the activists said that Sullivan was complicitous in the deaths of AIDS sufferers.
The protesters waved banners, blew whistles and pointed large cardboard fingers inscribed with with the word "shame." They shouted slogans such as "Gay youth under attack. What do we do? Act up like that" and "Louis Sullivan thanks a bunch! People die while you eat lunch!"
ACT-UP has been a vocal critic of Sullivan--protesting many of his appearances. At the International AIDS conference this summer in San Franscico, ACT-UP and other gay activist groups drowned out the secretary's speech with a barrage of whistles and threw condoms on the stage.
"We are demanding he take decisive action to counter inaction on the part of the Bush administration," said Warren J. Blumenfeld, who coordinated the protest for ACT-UP Boston. "We are going to hold him on notice that he will be protested wherever he goes until he does act and get out from under the thumb of Bush and Sununu," in reference to White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu.
ACT-UP has specifically criticized the Immigration and Naturalization Services for its ban on immigrants who test positive for HIV, the AIDS antibody. It has also asked Sullivan to appoint a new head to the National Institute of Health sympathetic to their cause.
"He is not doing his job and wherever he goes people will protest him," said Morris A. Ratner, a third year law student, one of seven Harvard graduate students attending the protest.
While the protesters succeeded in entering the Belfer Building of the Kennedy School Hall--pushing their way past Harvard University Police and racing up the stairs blowing whistles--they were not able to gain enterence to the Taubman Building where the luncheon was taking place.
On their way into the Sullivan luncheon, Cambridge Mayor Alice K. Wolf and Vice-Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 stopped to speak with the protesters and promised to deliver their message to Sullivan.
"The city of Cambridge has a very active gay taskforce," said Wolf, who cited the city's human rights ordinance which prohibits discrimination against gays. She also said Cambridge had formed a group to raise money for AIDS patients in the city.
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