About 10,000 AIDS activists packed Times Square on Tuesday to denounce the Bush administration, praise Bill Clinton and demand more federal money for research and medical care.
"I'm personally desperate to get Bill Clinton elected," said Tom Duane, a New York City councilman who has been diagnosed as having the AIDS virus. "I don't think I have a chance to live if he doesn't get elected."
Meanwhile, police arrested 25 activists on both sides of the abortion issue during protests and an attempted confrontation with Clinton, as a variety of groups sought to send a message to Democratic convention delegates at Madison Square Garden.
Two people were arrested at the AIDS rally, which was billed as a nonpartisan event though many who marched down Broadway to Times Square sported Clinton signs, T-shirts, and buttons. Among those attending were Jesse Jackson and New York Mayor David Dinkins.
"I'm enthusiastic about Clinton," said Hector Garcia, a delegate from Dallas who says he is gay. "He's the only one who has really listened to us and seems genuinely concerned about our needs."
The Rev. Howard Warren Jr., an Indianapolis minister who has been diagnosed as carrying the AIDS virus, was among the marchers who chanted slogans such as "Health care is a right!" and "George Bush has got to go!"
But others criticized the Democrats and Clinton's record as governor of Arkansas.
The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, known as ACT UP, handed out fliers condemning Clinton for providing "meager state funding" for AIDS programs and tolerating "the nation's most oppressive sodomy law."
Two members of ACT UP were arrested after scuffles with police.
Police said 17 people, most of them abortion-rights supporters, were arrested at St. Agnes Church, where the national anti-abortion group Operation Rescue had planned an evening prayer vigil. Those arrested were blocking an entrance, police said.
Three other anti-abortion protesters were arrested after thrusting a container with a 19-week-old fetus at Clinton.