Bagels and Locks at World AIDS Day Event

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December 1, 2010; Source: New York Nonprofit Press | New York’s billionaire philanthropist Mayor Mike Bloomberg gets so much good press that if you weren’t a New Yorker, you’d think that he was a combination of Andrew Carnegie and Mother Teresa. But not everyone is quite so enamored by Mayor Bloomberg.

The mayor presided over a World AIDS Day meeting at the Brooklyn Museum—apparently an annual bagel breakfast ritual the mayor holds to commemorate AIDS activists. Some of the activists, however, stayed outside the Museum, protesting what they viewed as a gap between the mayor’s rhetoric and the city’s budget cuts to AIDS services as well as the mayor’s proposal to cap rent payments for individuals with HIV/AIDS.

Protesters wearing bagel costumes chained themselves together to block traffic at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn near the museum. Nine bagel-clad protesters were arrested outside the museum and some were removed for disrupting the mayor’s speech inside. Charles King, the President and CEO of Housing Works Bagels’ Schmear Campaign, gave a public statement fitting the occasion: “Mayor Bloomberg’s attitude to poor people with AIDS is ‘Let them eat bagels!’ We bagels refuse to be implicated in the mayor’s World AIDS Day Bagel Breakfast hypocrisy.”

Don’t mistake Housing Works and Charles King as insta-protesters. Housing Works is a very legitimate, longstanding, well supported nonprofit, claiming to be “the largest community-based AIDS service organization in the United States, as well as the nation’s largest minority-controlled AIDS service organization.” At this World AIDS Day event, we wonder if Mayor Bloomberg ordered locks with his bagels?—Rick Cohen