Source: Associated Press
Pubdate: Thu, 4 Jun 1998
Author: Eun-Kyung Kim


WASHINGTON (AP) - Friends of a local AIDS activist marched his body along
Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday before coming to a stop outside the White
House to accuse President Clinton of being a ``murdering liar.''

About 100 people participated in the half-mile procession for Steve
Michael, founder of the Washington chapter of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To
Unleash Power. Organizers said Michael, who died May 25 of AIDS, requested
the ``political funeral'' to protest the Clinton administration's
AIDS-related policies.

``Bill Clinton is a murderer, and this death, and tens of thousands of
others, must be laid at his doorstep,'' said Ann Northrop of New York. ``He
is a liar, and he is letting people with AIDS die on purpose. We will not
rest until this crisis is over.''

ACT UP and other AIDS activists accuse Clinton of going back on promises
they say he made in his presidency's early days to make fighting the
disease a priority of his administration. They also criticize Clinton for
not being sufficiently aggressive about AIDS education programs in schools
or providing the poor with guaranteed health care access. His decision
against creating a federally funded needle exchange program for drug
addicts also was denounced Thursday.

Pallbearers wearing black arm bands carried Michael's casket. They walked
behind a single drummer and Michael's partner, Wayne Turner, who held an
altered picture of Clinton with a long, Pinnochio-like nose. Turner walked
arm-in-arm with Michael's mother, Barbara Michael, who held her own photo -
a black-and-white photocopy of her son as a baby.

The casket was opened in front of the White House. Michael's mother stroked
her son's forehead and gave it a kiss; Turner leaned in close, whispered a
few words, and instructed organizers to begin the eulogies.

Friends hailed Michael as a soldier of human rights while reviling Clinton.

``In 1992, the occupant of that house made very clear and specific
promises, commitments, to people living with HIV disease, ... and where are
we now?'' said Bill Freeman, former executive director of the National
Association of People with AIDS.

Turning and pointing to the White House, Freeman said: ``This is a
president who continually said the right thing and did the wrong thing.''

The protest stood in stark contrast to past ``funerals'' the organization
has held in front of the White House. Two years ago, more than 300
protesters gathered to watch as ashes of another AIDS victim were thrown
onto the mansion lawn.

In comparison, the march for Michael was relatively calm. Police blocked
off traffic as protesters carrying the casket and a number of black
banners, including one that said ``Over our dead bodies,'' walked by

Michael's body was being returned to a funeral home after the protest,
Turner said. It will be cremated Saturday.

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Checked-by: (Joel W. Johnson)