Another Day, Another Restraining Order! Oh Well...

Published: Mon 14 Aug 2000 01:08 PM
The silly things representatives of the San Francisco Department of Public health (DPH) will do to shut up those who criticize the homophobic HIV-causes-AIDS-and-gays-spread-it government line. Paper-thin fliers are given weight as "paper wads"! Silly String becomes battery!
Let's see here. DPH, assisted by AIDS industry researchers at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), concocts a claim that HIV is at "sub-Saharan African levels in The City. They have no verifiable proof to support this assertion but blame gay men for the alleged increase anyway. They then admit that all their past prevention efforts focusing on HIV-negative men have failed requiring them to now spend millions of federal dollars on targeting the real problem: HIV-positive gay men. In this crazy mix of money, medicine and antigay stereotypes, DPH officials still find time to complain that an activist group of grassroots HIV-positives is "hurting efforts to stop HIV." What a joke!
The DPH's foundation behind the bogus HIV increase is flawed. They claim gay men are living longer because of the drugs, creating a larger pool of infected people that are spreading disease. Of course, only a handful of people are dying of "AIDS" but that's beside the point. The truth is that the ONLY people dying are those who take poisonous AIDS drugs. More importantly, deaths due to AIDS are dropping -- not because of new drugs -- but because the syndrome isn't caused by a virus and folks are no longer terrified into taking toxic treatments like they once were.
As the whole AIDS scam falls apart, it's clear the DPH has only one out left: demonize gay men as diseased transmitters of death in order to keep the funding flowing. It's vile and it will be challenged -- starting with a high-profile Silly String trial where Mitch "Kapo" Katz will be grilled on the stand. Stay tuned.
David Pasquarelli ACT UP San Francisco
San Francisco Examiner August 10, 2000
ACT UP duo face battery charges ----- City health director acts after paper wad pelting By Ulysses Torassa, Examiner Medical Writer
For the first time, a city official is pressing battery charges against members of an AIDS dissident group that for years has screamed obscenities and disrupted public meetings.
Health Director Mitchell H. Katz said the tactics of ACT UP/San Francisco were taking an emotional toll on his staff and hurting efforts to stop the spread of HIV.
The arrest Wednesday of ACT UP/S.F. members David Pasquarelli and Jason Swindell came after they threw paper wads and sprayed Silly String on Katz as he spoke before a Board of Supervisors committee hearing.
The pair, along with two other ACT UP members, already face similar charges after they stormed a meeting of the AIDS education group Project Inform in April, threw pills and allegedly pushed a staff member to the ground.
They show up frequently at public meetings to heckle officials and create attention-grabbing disturbances, but this is the first time a public official has brought criminal charges.
"Hitting the health director at a hearing on the back of the head is not part of free speech," said Katz, who was not hurt in Wednesday's incident.
Katz was delivering figures showing that new HIV infections are up sharply among gay men in San Francisco. ACT UP/S.F. claims HIV is not the cause of AIDS and accuses officials of twisting statistics to scare people and secure more funding.
"The reality is that the real criminal here is Mitch Katz," ACT UP/S.F. member Michael Bellefountaine said after the hearing. "This is typical political street theater antics, and they don't warrant assault and battery charges."
The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was founded in New York in 1987 to agitate for greater access to treatment, cheaper drugs and more funding for AIDS education. The San Francisco chapter became divided after dissidents took control, and many members left to form ACT UP/ Golden Gate. That group is now called Survive AIDS and is careful to distinguish itself from the tactics and view of ACT UP/S.F.
ACT UP/S.F.'s targets mostly have gritted their teeth and ejected the hecklers from meetings. But now there are calls for more direct action by Project Inform and other AIDS activists.
Avi Rose, Project Inform's executive director, said besides the criminal charges, staff members had obtained restraining orders against ACT UP/S.F. members and were seeking permanent injunctions against the group. There have also been calls to boycott the group's marijuana dispensary, which sells millions of dollars' worth of pot a year to people who say they have a medical need for it.
"There is nothing wrong with ideological disagreement -- nobody expects or wants unanimity in the community," Rose said. "It's a question of tactics."
Bellefountaine said he believed efforts to curb ACT UP/S.F.'s activities were related to the group's recent invitation from South African President Thabo Mbeki to participate in a government panel on AIDS.
"It doesn't escape us that this rise in trying to silence us coincides with the credibility we've gotten," he said.
Jeff Sheehy, who handles public affairs for UC-San Francisco's AIDS Research Institute, said the group's tactics had made people wary of involvement in AIDS activities or even attending community meetings on the issue.
"I have not been to a public meeting on HIV-AIDS that has not been disrupted in the last three years," he said. "It's frightening people away."
Katz said when ACT UP/S.F. members saw him on the street, they screamed at him, calling him a murderer. Recently, he was shopping at Safeway with a friend when an ACT UP member spotted him and followed him around the store, yelling that he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of gay men. Katz is also gay.
A candidate for a job in the department's AIDS office who received calls at home from ACT UP/S.F. members declined to accept the position, Katz said. Last month, a staff epidemiologist received dozens of late-night calls at home after news of the alarming increase in new HIV infections became public.
"I've had to spend hours calming down my own staff and telling them what they're doing is the right thing," Katz said.
After turning his cheek for so many years, hoping the activists would go away, Katz said it was time to address the problem more directly.
"I think there was a naive belief that if they were given their time, that was really all they wanted," Katz said. "But they just want to destroy things. They want to undermine our efforts to control the epidemic."
ACT UP San Francisco 1884 market Street * San Francisco, CA 94102 Phone: (415) 864-6686 * fax: (415) 864-6687 *

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