Entries in Protesters (2)


Sex Workers, Drug Users, Protest Stigma During AIDS Conference

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A crimson wall made its way across Washington D.C., Tuesday as more than 1,000 sex workers, drug users and AIDS activists -- many of them carrying red umbrellas to fend off the rain -- marched toward the White House to protest the stigma associated with their activities, a stigma they believe contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Protesters held up signs reading "Fight AIDS! No More Drug War!" and "Stop the Witch Hunt against Sex Workers."

"Sex work is work," the group chanted, responding to demonstration leaders holding megaphones.

The demonstrators were calling for the decriminalization of drugs and sex work, which they argue would encourage people to practice safer sex.

The march was one of five protests that joined -- in front of the White House -- different groups affected by HIV and AIDS. The demonstrations coincided with the 19th International AIDS Conference, which is taking place in the nation's capital this week, the first time the U.S. has hosted it in 22 years. Until 2009, a U.S. travel ban denied visas to people who had HIV.

Most protesters delivered their message on posters and in chants, but a group of Canadian AIDS activists wore only underwear that bore the message, "I party, I bareback, I'm positive, I'm responsible."

"Bareback" refers to the practice of engaging in sex without condoms.

"People who are positive have sex," said activist Jessica Whitbread. "They should be able to negotiate the kind of sex they want to have. Putting the responsibility of prevention on them creates stigma, and only continues the spread of the disease."

Bryan Floury also opted for a more eye-catching display, wearing a hat littered with different condom brands while holding a sign reading, "Teach Condom Sense."

"Everybody likes looking at the guy in condoms," Floury joked, but later, on a more serious note, compared sex education to basic training.

"We need to train students like soldiers, train them to protect themselves," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What to Do If You Get Pepper Sprayed

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- If you come into contact with pepper spray, experts say the best thing to do is first, calm down. Then, find some water to rinse your eyes out with.

“It’s quite painful and the [intense burning] can last a while,” said Robert J. Kaminski, an associate professor in the department of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina.

He said members of law enforcement had told him they could still feel the burning sensation for a couple of days and that even a shower could irritate the skin over again.

Pepper spray, an irritating substance extracted from the cayenne pepper plant, has made headlines in recent weeks as cameras have captured police spraying it on Occupy protesters in New York City and more recently at University of California, Davis.

Pepper spray comes in two forms -- as a fogger and as a stream. Kaminiski said the pepper spray used on the UC-Davis protesters appeared to be more of a mist or fog.

“The strength of police-issued pepper spray is stronger than what you can get as a civilian,” Kaminski said. “Foggers have particles that are fine. When you inhale, they will get into the lungs and irritate them [and] cause coughing. Streamers can still impact the lungs, but to a less significant degree.”

According to a fact sheet from Vandenberg Air Force Base, pepper spray “causes instant pain and closing of the eyes caused by swelling of the eyelids.” If inhaled, the spray causes “swelling inside of the nose, mouth, sinuses and other mucus membranes.”

Although the spray’s strength depends on the manufacturer, the Scientific American said that on the Scoville scale, which measures a pepper’s heat, pepper spray ranked hotter than the cayenne and the habanero.

This weekend, two campus officers and the campus police chief at UC-Davis were put on administrative leave after a video captured the two officers dousing seated Occupy protesters on the campus with pepper spray.

The president of the University of California system said he was “appalled” at the images. And last month, a New York Police Department officer was disciplined after violating guidelines when he used pepper spray on Occupy Wall Street protesters in September.

Kaminski said that the use of pepper spray by law enforcement was controversial in the 1990s because it was thought to be linked to people dying after being exposed.

Nowadays, he said there more concerns about people with asthma or the pressure from the spray damaging a person’s eye or someone suffering an injury or even dying after being incapacitated.

The Vandenberg Air Force Base in California offered these tips if pepper spray gets into your eyes:

  1.     Wash the exposed area with soap and water to remove all oils and dirt, which might entrap the irritant.
  2.     Flush the exposed area profusely with cold water three to five minutes.
  3.     Keep the washed areas exposed to fresh air to allow the irritant to evaporate.
  4.     Do not apply oil or grease medications. They could further trap the irritants.
  5.     Do not bandage the exposed areas.
  6.     Keep the area exposed to fresh air.
  7.     An ABC News staffer suggested also sucking on half a lemon to relieve the effects of inhaled pepper spray.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio