November 8, 2021

The Disability Justice and Rights Caucus (DJRC) of Workers World Party will hold a zoom solidarity meeting on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time to support the tent city encampment known as “Mass and Cass” in the Newmarket section of Boston. This is a struggle for housing and basic human rights, and access to medical treatment and harm reduction on demand. The meeting is part of the public Second Sunday Dialogue series the DJRC hosts by zoom every month.

Credit: WW Graphic

The reinvigorated Boston chapter of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) has launched a mass media campaign of flyers, memos and a petition with the following demands: 

— Hands off the tent city in Newmarket! Immediately provide sanitation and hygiene resources. No more sweeps! 

— Homes, not shelters, not detentions! No exceptions.

— No new police force, no new security, no mass surveillance.

— Free science-backed treatment on demand for problematic relationships to any substances and/or behaviors, now!

— Culturally responsive and expanded access to HIV medication and PrEP, and expanded HIV prevention education, now!

— Supervised consumption spaces in Massachusetts, now!

A Nov. 5 press conference and demonstration at City Hall Plaza demanded that Mayor-elect Michelle Wu be accountable to her promised “progressive agenda” and demonstrate solidarity with all of these demands.

As DJRC leader Brian Shea points out in the Workers World book, “What Road to Socialism,” ACT UP, which was led by people with HIV and AIDS, was one of the most significant mass movements of the 1980s. Formed in 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York City, the organization described itself as “an international direct action advocacy group working to impact the lives of people with AIDS and the AIDS pandemic to bring about legislation, medical research and treatment and policies to ultimately bring an end to the disease by mitigating loss of health and lives.” (

ACT UP’s creative direct actions targeted Wall Street, the Stock Exchange, federal government offices, pharmaceutical companies and medical associations. The group demanded a coordinated national policy to fight the disease, greater access to experimental AIDS drugs and affordable medication. ACT UP – led the struggle to expose and fight the misinformation and frenzy concerning AIDS, its transmission and the social stigma associated with the illness. 

The first HIV/AIDS treatment medications – AZT and anti-retroviral drugs – cost an astronomical $10,000 a year; no insurance companies would cover them. ACT UP waged a successful direct action campaign aimed at Burroughs Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline), AZT’s manufacturer, demanding that the company stop its profit-gouging and lower the price – to keep people alive.”

Veterans of this historic struggle will be joining the DJRC on Nov. 14, as well as  Æzra El, a harm reduction specialist and ACT UP activist who told the DJRC that the City of Boston has fenced the sidewalk at the encampment–blocking access for folks with mobility disabilities. 

The ACT UP Boston struggle is part and parcel of the overall Disability Justice and Rights struggle for access for medical care and treatment, housing and food. The ableist discrimination related by Æzra El reminded many folks in the DJRC of the ongoing denial of access during the current pandemic, including permanent outdoor dining structures that block sidewalks and doors in blatant violation of  access provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“Access delayed is access denied!” Join the DJRC on Nov. 14! 

For zoom information, contact [email protected]   

Yudelovich is a DJRC activist with neurodivergent and auditory disabilities.