ACT UP Asks for Support, 1990

A letter printed on a dot matrix printer, with the ACTUP logo on it.

AUG 13 1990
Dean’S Office

Act Up

August 5, 1990
June E. Osborn, M.D., Dean
University of Michigan
School of Public Health
109 South Observatory
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029

Dear Dr. Osborn:

I am a member of ACT UP New York’s Needle Exchange Committee. On
April 19, two members of our Committee, along with one member of
ACT UP New Jersey and one member of the Boston-based National
AIDS Brigade, were arrested in Jersey City for attempting to
distribute free, clean hypodermic needles and bleach kits to
intravenous drug users. Our case is currently pending in the
Hudson County court system. In late August we will file motions
that will argue for the acquittal of our charges upon necessity,
de minimus, and constitutional grounds (see enclosed article from
ACLU newsletter).

Currently ACT UP New York operates four “permanent” needle
exchange sites: one in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn, and one in the
Bronx. We hope to be starting similar programs in New Jersey in
the near future, law or no law.

In March, 1990, ten activists from ACT UP New York and the
National AIDS Brigade were arrested on the Lower East Side of
Manhattan. These cases are still pending in Manhattan Criminal
Court and will be heard in September. In early August, a Motion
to Dismiss was filed. Over forty letters of support from service
providers, doctors, researchers, etc. were attached in an
appendix to the motion, making it a powerful document that helped
ta contextualize the issue raised by the arrests.
I am writing to ask you for your help. We believe that the
motion we file in the New Jersey case must reflect, as did the
New York motion, the opinions and recommendations of
organizations and individuals who share our commitment to seeing
effective harm reduction strategies for drug users become
standards of care and health policy priorities in this country .
The court needs to hear from the real experts–those of us who
care for drug addicts and people with AIDS, and members of
communities affected by drug use and AIDS–to counter the
arguments that will be made by the law enforcement people.
I am asking you to send us a letter of support which will be
appended to our motion. You might want to specifically address
your comments to the legal arguments we are making, talk
generally about the concepts of needle exchange and harm
reduction, or discuss particular insights you can offer as a
result of your work. We will, of course, set no restrictions on

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