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Naked Protestors Arrested Outside Madison Square Garden

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A dozen AIDS activists were arrested outside Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon after they stripped off their clothes and blocked traffic.

The men and women, members of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) said they staged the demonstration in front of the site of next week’s Republican National Convention in order to protest the Bush administration’s policies on AIDS.

“This protest is to tell the naked truth to President Bush and the Republican Party,” said ACT UP member Robert Dabney, who kept his clothes on to talk to reporters. “Our protestors are demanding number one that the president support full debt cancellation for the poorest nations in the world.”

The protestors were standing naked in the street for almost 15 minutes before police put them in handcuffs. Traffic, already slowed by sporadic closures in the area for security preparations, stood at a standstill in the meantime.

Organizers said they were glad there was no confrontation with police.

“We were not violent. ACT UP has a history of non-violence. It’s in our mission statement," said Mark Milano of the group. "We have no intention of being violent. I hope the police respond appropriately. Let us get our message across and not escalate the situation.”

ACT UP says it is planning more protests during the convention.

Meanwhile, two other people were arrested after hanging a large anti-Bush banner on the Plaza Hotel. The men apparently rented a room, climbed out the window and rappelled down the side of the building to hang the sign, which showed arrows with the words “truth” and “Bush” pointing in opposite directions.

Crews have since take it down.

There is no word yet on what the men will be charged with. The pair says they are not planning any other protests during the convention.
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