BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | Late in the day on March 28, six activists who were part of a protest in a suite near Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Albany were arrested, VOCAL-NY said in a statement. Activists vowed to return to the suite on March 29 and continue their action.
The protest buttressed demands by supporters of the Plan to End AIDS that the governor include $70 million in the state budget being finalized this week –– including $20 million for programs at the AIDS Institute, a unit of the state health department and $50 million for expanded housing assistance, nutrition programs, and other efforts to help people with HIV.
The plan, endorsed by the governor in 2014, aims to reduce new HIV infections in the state from 3,000 per year to 750 by 2020.
VOCAL-NY members had taken control of the Capitol suite earlier in the day on March 28, reading the names of the 100,000 New Yorkers who have died of AIDS and vowing not to leave when the building closed.
A coalition of AIDS advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall in New York City on March 21 voicing the same demands.
In response to the Albany protest, Cuomo’s office issued the following statement: “No one is more committed to ending HIV/ AIDS than Governor Cuomo, who with a $2.5 billion annual investment, has made New York State a national leader by pledging to end the epidemic by 2020 and providing quality support services to those impacted by the disease. The budget –– which is a negotiated document between the Legislature and the Executive –– is not due until April 1, which every advocate should be aware of.”