This noontime we joined nearly one thousand people in lower Manhattan for ACT-UP's 20th Anniversary March on Wall Street to demand single-payer healthcare and drug price controls. Walking from the Federal Building to Trinity Church, then past the New York Stock Exchange and ending at Bowling Green, we loved the variety of the crowd, including a very friendly contingent from ACT-UP Philadelphia. Our feelings about the onlookers were more mixed; some tourists were clearly open and interested in our message, some corporate suits proved themselves to be Very Impatient People indeed. Band of Thebes stepped up to offer a little perspective, "Sorry if 25 million dead inconvenienced your trying to cross the street."
Maybe our momentary anger was because we were thinking specifically of two artists who died of AIDS before producing their great work: the PEN award-winning fiction writer Allen Barnett and the filmmaker John Dabney.
At Bowling Green, Ann Northrop (who, of everyone all day, had by far the best megaphone skills) announced that now some protesters would be getting arrested for civil disobedience. Twenty or so lay down in the street. After a while they were handcuffed, loaded into vans, and driven away. The police seemed respectful and a little bored and a lot deaf to the shouts of "Shame! Shame! Shame!"
Completely unrelated, or not: Did you realize that 7,000-lb. bronze bull is a work of guerrilla art? Italian sculptor Artruro Di Modica created it spending $360,000 of his own money and in 1989 trucked it to the stock exchange, leaving it there as a Christmas gift to New York. The police seized it, impounded it, and only moved it to its present spot in Bowling Green as a result of public outcry.