AIDS activists protesting Obama detained by Homeland Security

For Immediate Release, June 12, 2012

Press contact: Jose DeMarco [267-333-0032]
Kaytee Riek [267-334-6984]

AIDS Activists Greet President Obama’s Address to Science Leadership Academy Graduates 

2 activists detained by Homeland Security after dropping giant banner that reads "Obama: Homes not Graves for People with AIDS. Tax Wall Street; Treat the People."

**Photos Available**

Philadelphia – President Obama was in Philadelphia today to meet with graduating seniors from the Science Leadership Academy charter school. AIDS activists from the group ACT UP Philadelphia dropped a giant banner from a parking garage near the event with their own message for the president and the future science leaders of America: “Obama: Homes not Graves for People with AIDS. Tax Wall Street; Treat the People.” The banner also had the url The activists are currently being detained by Homeland Security.

“Science leadership is the key to ending HIV and AIDS. We have the science. What we need now is presidential leadership,” said ACT UP member Kwame-Jamal Asante, describing why the group chose to drop their banner at the president’s address to the Science Leadership Academy graduates.

ACT UP member Melvin White added, “The International AIDS Conference will be here in the US next month and we are expecting President Obama to pledge to be the leader who ends AIDS.” White adds, “President Obama, you have made great strides for equality on so many fronts and made great promises mostly kept, with the exception of doing more to combat HIV/AIDS. We are in desperate need for you to keep pressure on Congress to address these issues.”  

The group, which has been engaged in a 3-year long campaign for more AIDS housing in Philadelphia, is calling for the president to increase funding for Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS. President Obama was the first president in the history of the federal AIDS housing program to recommend cutting its funding. ACT UP member Evelyn Nicholson, who is one of the many Philadelphians excluded from even having a slot on the city’s HOPWA waiting list of over 200 people due to local restrictions placed on the funding, wants the president to know, “we need more money for housing so Philadelphia can open more slots and make housing more accessible. People with AIDS need a safe to take their medicines and we need healthy places to rest.”

ACT UP’s banner also reflects the growing international call for a “Robin Hood Tax,” a less than 0.5% tax on financial transactions such as stock, bond, and dividend trades. Advocates of the tax estimate that it could generate up to $350 billion annually in revenue. The money would be used to support health and green job creation, including funding AIDS treatment programs at home and abroad.

“There’ve been amazing scientific breakthroughs on AIDS in the four years these students have been at SLA. We learned that treatment can drastically cut the spread of AIDS. We learned that providing housing is necessary to treat and prevent AIDS, and we’re closer than ever to a vaccine and a cure,” added ACT UP member Jose DeMarco. “The science is there; what we need is leadership – the leadership to tax Wall Street for the money to end AIDS.”

Photos of the banner can be obtained at


This photo is available for free media use.