Dozens of outraged bagels gathered outside the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza this morning to “schmear” Mayor Bloomberg at his annual World AIDS Day Bagel Breakfast. Members of HIV/AIDS charities Housing Works and ACT UP New York, each dressed as the bagel of their choice, made their message to Hizzoner fairly clear this morning: “Cream cheese and chives won’t save lives!” They were protesting the fact that Bloomberg has steadily cut funding for organizations that benefit New Yorkers with AIDS. “We’re here to tell Bloomberg to match rhetoric with actions,” said Benjamin Shepherd, 40, a university professor and member of ACT UP New York. “He shouldn’t be celebrating his accomplishments on AIDS Day, he should be changing policies and remembering the lives of those who have died,” said Andrew Coamey, senior vice-president and chief financial officer of Housing Works.
What began at 7:45 as a peaceful protest outside the library by one group of bagels turned into something quite different when another, more aggressive gang turned up nearly an hour later. The second group promptly engaged in an act of civil disobedience, flopping down in their bagel costumes in the middle of the street and blocking traffic. Police were on hand to arrest them in short order, but Coamey was undaunted. “We’ve sent our message,” he said. “Bloomberg knows we’re here, and we hope he’s listening.” We have the pictures.