Seven naked protesters swarmed the office of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Tuesday for some 20 minutes of loud chanting against cuts to AIDS funding.
Among their chants: “Boehner, Boehner, don’t be a dick, budget cuts will make us sick.” And: “Fight AIDS. Act up. Fight back.” And: “End AIDS with the Robin Hood tax, no more budget cuts on our back.” And: “Budget cuts are really rude, that’s why we have to be so lewd.”
The screaming, fully-nude protesters stood still in the center of the office, together in a line but facing in different directions. The room quickly filled up with members of the activist groups they belong to, observers taking photographs, a handful of reporters, and, eventually, police.
After police showed up and repeatedly threatened to arrest the protesters for indecent exposure, they eventually put on their clothes and walked out of the Speaker’s office. The three female protesters stuck around in the hallway to speak to reporters and were arrested anyway; the four male protesters appeared to get away, the organizers said.
The protest was organized by AIDS activist organizations Health Global Access Group (GAP), Queerocracy, Act Up NY and Act Up Philadelphia. They say that if sequestration — automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January — goes into effect, funding to combat HIV/AIDS could drop substantially and cost lives.
“We are here today to tell the naked truth about these budget cuts,” Jennifer Flynn, one of the naked activists, said afterward. “The truth is that people with AIDS have been stripped naked for years — Medicaid has been cut, states are [struggling]. … There are waiting lists in this country where people with AIDS are dying.”
Paul Davis, an activist for Health GAP, told TPM the protesters previously took their message to Democratic National Committee headquarters near Capitol Hill “to make sure President Obama hears us, too” before going to Boehner’s office in the Longworth building.
“We know that we can have an AIDS-free generation in the next 30 years,” Flynn said. “But we cannot get there — we cannot end AIDS because these guys want to cut some money out of the budget, because they won’t look at revenue increases, like the Robin Hood tax.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.