Body bags stuffed with paper lined the median strip in front of the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue Wednesday afternoon as about 200 protesters demanded that Gov. Rendell restore $2 million in HIV-education funding.
State money for HIV prevention in Philadelphia was cut by $1.7 million during the last fiscal year, said Kate Kozeniewski, a spokeswoman for the AIDS activist group ACTUP. The state's proposed budget for fiscal 2011 likely will cut $2 million from what initially had been $4.8 million, she said. "That amounts to a 40 percent decrease of the money once slated for AIDS education in Philadelphia," Kozeniewski said.
Beginning at noon, protesters jammed the sidewalk in front of the Center City luxury hotel for an hour. They waved banners, beat drums, and chanted, "Act up, fight back, give us our money back," "Shame, shame, shame," and, "Over our dead bodies."
Rendell, who has an office in the hotel, was in Washington, a spokesman said. - Sam Wood