Protestors holding tombstone at October 11, 1988 ACT UP “Seize Control of the FDA,” protest. Photo copyright and courtesy J. Scott Applewhite.
October 11, 1988: David demonstrates with ACT UP at the “Seize Control of the FDA,” protest. It is one of ACT UP’s most successful demonstrations successfully shutting down the Federal Drug Administration for a day. Close to 1,500 protesters challenge the agency with chants of “Hey, hey, FDA, how many people have you killed today?” As part of the “Candelabras,” with Tom Rauffenbart, Zoe Leonard, and others, David lies on the ground holding a foam core tombstone behind his head that reads “Dead. As a person of color, I was exempt from drug trials.” Others read “AZT wasn’t enough” and “I got the placebo.” Tom and David are among 176 people arrested that day (for which they each paid a $25 fine). The protest is held on October 11, 1988 which would have been Peter Hujar’s 54th birthday.