July 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Second D.C. march planned for AIDS conference
Al Sharpton, gay news, Washington Blade

The Rev. Al Sharpton is among those expected to speak at an AIDS march later this month. (Photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia)

Representatives of a broad coalition of AIDS and social justice groups announced on Monday that thousands of people were expected to participate in a protest march on Washington on July 24 to coincide with the 19th International AIDS Conference.

The AIDS Conference is scheduled to take place July 22-28 at the Washington Convention Center.

Officials with the coalition, We Can End AIDS, said “five distinct branches” of the march would assemble in different locations in or near downtown D.C., including the Convention Center, and converge at Lafayette Park across the street from the White House.

A press release issued July 2 says the marchers plan to engage in a “range of creative and powerful actions” that one organizer said may involve non-violent civil disobedience arrests. The release says participants from the “occupy” movement, which has staged protests in dozens of U.S. cities, including on Wall Street in New York, would be joining the march.

The July 24 march is scheduled to follow a separate AIDS March on Washington set for July 22. That event is being organized by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, with an exclusive focus on AIDS.

The July 22 march is scheduled to kick off at the grounds of the Washington Monument, where a rally and concert will be held, and travel east along Constitution Avenue and end at 3rd Street where Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues converge.

Called the “Keep the Promise” March, the event seeks to “refocus public attention on the lack of access to HIV testing, treatment and prevention, wavering political commitment to funding the global AIDS response and excessive AIDS drug pricing by pharmaceutical companies,” according to a statement posted on march’s website.

Among those scheduled to speak at the rally are Andrew Young, the civil rights leader and former Atlanta mayor; Rev. Al Sharpton; political commentator and civil rights activist; Tavis Smiley, author and TV talk show host; and Cornel West, author, professor and civil rights advocate. Organizers say Archbishop Desmond Tutu is scheduled to address the crowd in a recorded video.

Organizers of both marches said they support each others’ events, with many participants expected to participate in both marches.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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