An event honoring Ed Koch was briefly disrupted by protesters Thursday, on what would've been the late New York City mayor's 89th birthday.
At the very beginning of a ceremony officially designating Koch's former Greenwich Village residence as a landmark, a group of men stormed the podium carrying signs, chanting, "20,000 died of AIDS and Koch did nothing." According to HuffPost's Lance Gould, who attended the event, the stunt drew jeers from the crowd, but also some light applause.
As The New York Times noted after Koch's death in January of this year: "There was a belief among gay activists, propagated most irascibly by the playwright and Act Up co-founder Larry Kramer, that Mr. Koch was gay and that it was because of his concealed orientation that he was slow to act on a growing public health crisis ravaging gay men."
Koch's three terms as mayor, from 1978 to 1989, saw the spread of the deadly AIDS epidemic that devastated the city's gay community.
Up until the very end, the cantankerous mayor remained mum on his sexuality.
The protesters Thursday were peaceably escorted out of the event at 2 Fifth Avenue near Washington Square Park.
In attendance were former mayor David Dinkins and Peter Powers, a former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani. A cultural medallion was attached to the side of the building.
Many of the speakers at Thursday's event, including Koch's former press secretary George Arzt, noted that Koch would've loved the protesters' theatrics.
One speaker even jokingly speculated that Koch put the protesters up to it.