Three female AIDS activists seeking to highlight the “naked truth” about potential spending cuts in HIV programs were arrested Tuesday after taking their clothes off in the lobby of House Speaker John Boehner’s office.
The trio had the words “AIDS cuts kill” painted on their bodies and had linked arms with four men who also disrobed as part of the protest. The nude protesters, along with dozens of other clothed demonstrators chanted slogans, including: “People with AIDS are under attack. What do we do? Fight back.”
The three women were arrested by Capitol Police as they mingled with other protesters in the hall outside Boehner’s district office after putting their clothes back on. The naked male protesters appeared to have left.
“People with AIDS are sick and tired of being pushed over the cliff,” said Jennifer Flynn, 40, of New York City, who was among those arrested. “We need to make sure they stop going after people with AIDS.”
Michael Tikili, 26, of New York City, said he is HIV-positive and depends on Medicaid for treatment.
“Just the idea of these programs being cut is horrible,” Tikili said.
The three nude female protesters were charged with lewd and indecent acts under the District of Columbia’s disorderly conduct law, a Capitol Police spokesman said.
The speaker has a plush suite of offices in the Capitol Building and never works in his district office, so he wasn’t there.
An aide to Boehner said there would be no official comment about the incident, but confirmed there were seven individuals from the group ACT Up who came into the office and proceeded to remove their clothing. That is when staffers to Boehner’s office notified Capitol Police, who came and handled the situation from there.
The protest occurred as congressional leaders and President Barack Obama seek a deal to avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases in January. A coalition of AIDS activist groups gathering in Washington for Saturday’s World AIDS Day organized the protest.