Big traffic schmear in Grand Army Plaza from AIDS ‘bagels’

Big traffic schmear in Grand Army Plaza from AIDS ‘bagels’
Photo by Paul Martinka

A “schmear campaign” against Mayor Bloomberg’s World Aids Day Bagel breakfast at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library got unexpectedly sticky on Wednesday morning as cops bagged nine unruly protestors who donned bagel costumes and laid down in traffic in the middle of Grand Army Plaza.

More than 40 protestors from Housing Works — which fights homelessness and AIDS — were dressed as bagels, bananas, coffee cups and other breakfast foods outside the grand library at 8 am as Bloomberg and AIDS activists met inside for a nosh and a discussion on how to combat the deadly disease.

Cops stood quietly by — possibly getting hungry from all the food parading around them — until some of the bagels rolled out into the middle of the street in an attempt to block traffic and — of all things — erect a home (everyone knows that bagels are lousy builders).

Arrested protestor Douglas Sanders said he and his fellow breakfast foods wanted to showcase the kind of suitable apartment unit that an AIDS sufferer deserves.

“We had two couches, a sleeper sofa and a few side chairs,” Sanders explained. “We wanted to show a scenario of what a stable environment would look like.”

But cops weren’t about to have an entire living room unfurl on the street, and arrested the would-be movers, charging them with criminal mischief.

Seven were released from the 78th Precinct stationhouse in Park Slope after a few hours. Two remained incarcerated on Wednesday afternoon, facing additional charges of resisting arrest, police said.

“[The police] were actually very kind with us today,” explained Sanders, who has been HIV positive since 2004. “It wasn’t that bad. There were no faces in the ground, but the handcuffs were pretty tight. The bad weather was the most treacherous thing.”

About 60 protesters — including some dressed as bagels (to “schmeer” Mayor Bloomberg, get it?) rallied outside the Brooklyn Public Library, where the mayor was speaking in honor of World AIDS Day. Several protesters were arrested for blocking traffic in Grand Army Plaza.
Photo by Paul Martinka

So were the bagel costumes, apparently: They weren’t designed so one could put his hands behind his back, Sanders recalled.

“Because I had this big costume on, my arms were sticking out of the sides,” Sanders said. “The cop on me had to call one of his fellows over to help hoist me up.”

Bloomberg never stepped outside to address the protestors.

Housing Works CEO Charles King hoped the group’s tasty protest would highlight what he called a “World AIDS Day hypocrisy.”

Each year Bloomberg holds a bagel breakfast on World AIDS Day to re-commit himself to the fight against AIDS in New York City, then proposes budgets that cut services to low income New Yorkers suffering from the disease, said King, who was dressed up like a sesame seed bagel.

“Mayor Bloomberg is like Marie Antoinette,” King said. “His attitude to poor people with AIDS is ‘Let them eat bagels!’ ”

Calls to the mayor’s office for comment were not returned, although it seems that the protest did have a biting impact on the breakfast: this year those at the breakfast were served scones, not bagels, sources said.

Photo by Paul Martinka