ALTRIA'S NYC HEADQUARTERS
April 26, 2006
media (and police) were already waiting when youth showed up
at Altria's headquarters, which is adorned with the company's
logo. Photos: 1,
youth, who had decided to do a silent protest, stood in one
long line with their mouths taped shut to symbolize the millions
of people killed - silenced - by tobacco around the world each
year. Every 7 seconds, a youth would kneel to the ground to
represent another person killed by tobacco. Photos: 1,
held a long "human billboard" that read "ALTRIA
SPLIT = PROFIT$
HEALTH" (Photos: 1,
and displayed examples of what Philip Morris is up to around the
human billboard was reflected in a window across the street
skull masks, cowboy hats, skeleton gloves, and carried inflatable
globes to symbolize the Marlboro Man's deadly global expansion.
that said "Altria"
"Give the World a Break!"
handed out palmcards with information about why they were there
to people passing by. The
image on the palmcard was designed by a Wisconsin youth.
Near the end
of the demonstration, a small group of youth tried to deliver
a bunch of sarcastic "Happy 50th Birthday Marlboro"
cards collected by Americans for Nonsmokers Rights from youth
around the country. A sampling of the inscriptions on the cards:
150 people died using your product during the time
I made this card! Way to Go!
Marlboro for 50 wonderful years of being unable to breathe!
Here's to not having 50 more!
- Happy Birthday!...be
fortunate you had yours
'cuz your buyers won't!
- Happy Happy
You take my breath away.
- We were
going to send you flowers for your birthday
but we had
to use them for all the funerals instead. Sorry - and you should
- On Your
Birthday, a poem: Roses are red, Violets are blue, Tobacco kills
people, Thanks to you!
- Happy Birthday!!
Sorry I can't be there to celebrate with you
but I was
a life long customer. Now I'm 6 feet under. Thanks a lot. (opens
up to coffin).
of the cards to Altria's main entrance was quickly prevented by
a detective with the New York City police who informed the youth
that the company would not accept any materials from them. In
response, the youth led the whole group in a rousing rendition
of "Happy Deathday Marlboro."
then decided to try and deliver the cards to the Whitney
Museum of Art at Altria halfway down the block. Inside the
entrance, they explained their desire to deliver the cards and
the appropriateness of doing so at an art museum sponsored by
Altria. The man at the door explained that the art museum has
no connection to Altria's headquarters - "it's just in the
same building" - and encouraged the youth to deliver the
cards to the headquarters (where they had just been denied entrance).
The group questioned the man's contention that he was not connected
to Altria, pointing out the "Altria Corporate Security"
pin on his shirt. Photos: 1,
At the close
of the demonstration, all the youth decided that they would like
to check out the Whitney Museum of Art at Altria, which
is open to the public, with their mouths still taped shut.
Frightened by the prospect of dozens of silent young people invading
the art museum, it was "temporarily" closed to prevent
involved with the FACT movement of Wisconsin posed in front of
the Whitney Museum of Art at Altria, to which they were just
By the end
of the demonstration a whopping
total of 67 police cars had surrounded the area. Initially
the youth thought it was an overblown response to their peaceful
demonstration, but a police officer said that it was actually
a routine weekly drill. Specifically, one officer said, while
chumming it up with some Altria security guards, that it was "a
show of force against terrorism" -- ignoring the world's
biggest purveyor of weapons of mass destruction in their midst.
Presse and Getty Images took many photos of the youth and Associated
Press television shot footage of it and interviews
with Shane and Skye for New Zealand television. There was
a smoker, who spouted standard tobacco industry rhetoric, repeatedly
tried to confront youth and engage the media. We think he
the AFP and Getty Images photos at: http://www.gettyimages.com
(Click on "Editorial", then "News", then do
search for "Altria". 12 photos should turn up)
more photos of the demo: