AIDS activists, AmeriCorps supporters plan protest of Cantor speech Thursday at Harvard
Updated: 4:30 p.m.
When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) visits Harvard University this evening to deliver an economic address, he may have some company.
Student AIDS activists and AmeriCorps supporters are among those planning to protest Cantor's address at the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics, slated for 6 p.m. Thursday.
One of the groups of protesters will include undergraduate and graduate students from Harvard, Tufts, Lesley and Northeastern Universities who are protesting some of the $61 billion in cuts included in the federal spending resolution that passed the House last week.
According to the organizers, the protest will include a "Rally for AmeriCorps" led by students who have participated in the Teach For America, City Year, and Citizen Schools service programs; students will also be protesting cuts to community health centers, job training, family planning and renewable energy programs.
Students from Harvard involved with AmeriCorps plan to deliver a petition to Cantor with nearly 100,000 signatures backing the program, organizers said.
A separate group of protesters will include students from Harvard, Wellesley, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia and the New School who are members of the national Student Global AIDS Campaign, as well as representatives from community groups and people living with AIDS from around the northeast.
According to Alyssa Yamamoto, 20, a Harvard junior from Westchester, N.Y., who is helping to organize the SGAC protest, the students are protesting $1.5 billion in global health program funding that would be cut if the House-passed government-funding resolution becomes law.
SGAC is the same group that heckled President Obama during several of his speeches last year in cities including Philadelphia, New York and New Haven.
When Obama visited Boston last October to headline a rally for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), protesters from SGAC yelled at him and held signs reading "Keep the Promise" and "Fight Global AIDS." Yamamoto said that students are planning a similar indoor protest at Thursday's speech.
Cantor Deputy Chief of Staff John Murray said that House Republican leaders "respect and understand that people want to have their grievances heard around spending cuts, and that's perfectly okay, but doing nothing is not an option for the long-term fiscal growth of this country."
"Every dollar spent in Washington has a constituency, and the point is that we have been servicing all of those constituencies for too long, and we've got to start making tough choices," Murray said. "People have a right to advocate for what they think money should be spent on. People have a right to bring their ideas into the process and have them debated and looked at. But just like we're dealing with with the spending cut issue in the Senate, the status quo is not acceptable."
The planned Cambridge protests come as House officials are warning members and staff across the country to be prepared for budget-related protests at their district offices this weekend.
"The U.S. Capitol Police have been made aware of the possibility of demonstration activities at Congressional district offices... continuing through the end of the week," House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood wrote Thursday in an e-mail to members and their staff, according to Roll Call. "It is believed that the intention of these demonstrations is to raise awareness of budget issues."
| February 24, 2011; 11:20 AM ET
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