Tuesday was cool and cloudy in Washington, D.C., somewhere in the mid-40s; just the sort of day you reach for a snug parka or warm hat, head out with an umbrella or pair of good rain boots…or stop by the lobby of House Speaker John Boehner’s office and strip down to your buck-naked birthday suit.
Yessiree, that’s just what a rousing band of AIDS activists did in the “never a dull day” epicenter of our national government. Shouting such feisty slogans as “Boehner, Boehner, don’t be a dick, budget cuts will make us sick,” three women and four men showed up unannounced in the lobby of Boehner’s Longworth House office and proceeded to get naked, exposing bedazzled bodies painted with slogans like “AIDS CUTS KILL” and “FUND HOPWA,” all for the shock and awe of the staffers in attendance (who says office jobs are dull?).
At issue is the proposed $1.2 billion in cuts being discussed as remedy to the looming “fiscal cliff” budget crisis. The activists, purportedly from Act Up, were clearly there to make as sensational a statement as they could: they stood arm-in-arm, three facing one way, four the other, making it impossible for onlookers to avoid either the messages painted on their skin or…their skin.
It didn’t take long for the D.C. police to show up, quick to alert the protesters that their state of undress would not be tolerated. According to TheStir.CafeMom
Only the three women were arrested — “for lewd and indecent acts.” Apparently they were mingling, still naked, with the crowds outside the office while the four men had left. That’s what we ladies get for always wanting to socialize.
The Huffington Post offers a tweet-by-tweet breakdown of the event, along with a selection of NSFW photos, and every media resource available has covered the story from head to toe (pun intended), maximum media exposure the activists had in mind. But despite the sniggering responses and drama of their display, the intent of the group was sincere. From the New York Daily News:
“People with AIDS are sick and tired of being pushed over the cliff,” said Jennifer Flynn, 40, of New York City, who was among those arrested. “We need to make sure they stop going after people with AIDS.”
Michael Tikili, 26, of New York City, said he is HIV-positive and depends on Medicaid for treatment. “Just the idea of these programs being cut is horrible,” Tikili said.
The protest occurred as congressional leaders and President Barack Obama seek a deal to avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases in January. A coalition of AIDS activist groups gathering in Washington for Saturday’s World AIDS Day organized the protest.
As for Speaker Boehner, apparently he has some cushy offices over at the Capitol Building and rarely shows up at the Longworth location. Maybe he ought to stop by more often; he appears to be missing out on some of the more outspoken local color.