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Protestors Inflate Replica of Giant Condom Atop Senator’s Home

September 5, 1991 GMT

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ AIDS activists inflated a 15-foot nylon replica of a condom on the roof of North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms’ suburban Washington home today.

″A condom to stop unsafe politics,″ said the printed message. ″Helms is deadlier than a virus.″

The protestors used two air blowers powered by a portable generator placed on the home’s front porch to keep the condom inflated for about 15 to 20 minutes, said protestor Peter Staley, 30, a member of a group called Treatment Action Guerillas.

″We pulled the plug after the police arrived,″ said Staley, who is infected with the AIDS virus. ″We helped take the condom down at their request, and the house looked just as it was before we arrived.″

No one was arrested and no charges are pending, said Tom Bell, a spokesman for Arlington County police. ″They were just trying to get a little publicity. I guess it worked, too,″ Bell said.

Helms was told about the demonstration, but he had no comment, the senator’s office said.

The group, which was formed by members of the militant AIDS activist group ACT-UP, was protesting positions the Republican lawmaker has taken on several AIDS related-issues, Staley said.

″It’s obvious to us he wants us dead,″ he said. ″We were trying to say, ‘If you mess with us, you’re going to wake up one morning to find a condom on your house’.″

No one was in the home in this Washington, D.C., suburb at the time of the protest, Staley said.