On June 5, 2020, Disability Voices United’s President, Judy Mark, issued a statement in response to the murder of George Floyd and the calls for accountability for police violence.
It’s Our Fight Too
Disability Voices United’s work is rooted in disability justice. But we cannot fight for our rights as people with disabilities and family members without recognizing that we are much more likely to face violence at the hands of law enforcement than people without disabilities. And if we are a person of color, the probability is significantly greater.
George Floyd’s murder last week by police officers in Minneapolis once again laid bare the systemic racism in our society. On top of a pandemic and mass unemployment, it has unleashed anger and protests throughout the country that cannot be ignored or minimized.
So, as Disability Voices United contemplates our ongoing advocacy and public education work around the coronavirus, state budget, and Self-Determination Program, we find it hard to continue as if our world isn’t crumbling and the issue of police brutality somehow doesn’t affect us.
Many of us live in fear that we or our loved ones will become a victim when encountering police. We all mourned last year when an autistic man was shot dead in a California Costco by an off-duty cop who was never held accountable. People of color and people with disabilities should not live in fear of getting killed, beaten, or arrested by police because they seem “suspicious” or don’t respond quickly enough to commands.
The protests are a heavy charge to all of us: what will we choose to do in the midst of this rage and grief?
Disability Voices United is standing up as an organization to support those protesting peacefully in the streets. We demand the end to racial injustice, police brutality, and economic insecurity for blacks and other people of color, as well as for people with disabilities.
We urge our whole disability community to stand with us in demanding massive changes to police conduct and our criminal justice system. To begin this dialog, we will host an honest conversation on this issue, from our fears to possible solutions, at a forum this Friday. We can no longer stay silent on the sidelines. This is our fight as well.
Forum for the Disability Community on Police Violence
On June 5, 2020, Disability Voices United hosted a Forum for the Disability Community on Police Violence to discuss the intersection of systemic racism, disability, and police brutality.
- Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (D-LA), Author of two bills on criminal justice reform in the California legislature
- Esperanza Dillard, Latinx deaf social worker and advocate for Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities (HEARD)
- Austin Dove, Parent, Attorney, activist for criminal justice reform
- Dale Galipo, Attorney for the French family, whose son, Kenneth, a non-speaking man with autism, was killed in a California Costco last year by an off-duty cop
- Leroy Moore, Self-Advocate, Krip-Hop Nation Founder, Disability Voices United Board
- Vikki Robinson, Parent of two young adults with autism
- Moderated by Judy Mark, President, Disability Voices United
Resources from the Forum
Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager spoke about two bills she has authored in the California legislature that seek to reform our criminal justice system.
- AB 2054: CRISES Act
- Establishes the Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems (C.R.I.S.E.S.) Act pilot program which will promote community-based responses to local emergency situations
- AB 1950: Probation Reform Act
- Amends the California State Penal Code to limit adult probation to a maximum of one year for misdemeanor offenses and two years for felony offenses
- Call your local legislators to urge them to support these bills!
- Find your legislators here.
Leroy Moore of Poor Magazine and Krip-Hop Nation spoke about his long history in the anti-police brutality movement. Leroy has recently posted two YouTube videos which lay out his critical perspective.
- Three Generations of Black Men Against Police Brutality
- State Abuse Continues Against Black Disabled People 2020
- Read Leroy Moore’s Krip Hop Nation column at Poor Magazine.
Esperanza Dillard, Latinx deaf social worker and advocate for Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities (HEARD) spoke about the incredible work that she has doing to assist deaf people who have been caught up in the criminal justice system and her advocacy to radically change the system entirely.
Austin Dove, Parent, Attorney, and activist for criminal justice reform spoke about his efforts to recruit attorneys to provide pro bono assistance to protesters who were unfairly arrested for practicing their First Amendment rights in the past two weeks.
Dale Galipo, the attorney for the French family, whose son, Kenneth, a non-speaking man with autism, was killed in a California Costco last year by an off-duty cop, spoke about how he has seen incidents like these as well as the murder of George Floyd thousands of times around the country with no consequences.
Vikki Robinson, Parent of two young adults with autism, expressed the fears that many parents share, particularly from the African-American community: what happens if my son has an interaction with police and gets killed because he didn’t understand how to follow their directions?
Beyond the Forum: Resources on Police Violence in the Disability Community
George Floyd Social Story for people with disabilities
We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Toolkit by the National Council on Independent Living
Justice for Isaias Cervantes
On March 31, 2021, Isaias Cervantes, an autistic and deaf Latino man, was shot in the back as his family watched while restrained by Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies. Isaias survived; he will be paralyzed for the rest of his life. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department continues to shirk responsibility for the actions of its members.
Disability Voices United supports Isaias Cervantes, his family, and our sister organization the Integrated Community Collaborative, who are providing continuing support to the Cervantes family at this time. We continue to assist in the organization and execution of protests, press conferences, and social media pushes to hold LASD accountable for shooting Isaias in front of his family.
Read about Isaias’s story in the Los Angeles Times >>
Watch coverage of Isaias’s story and subsequent community demands for justice by CBS LA >>
Read about the many questions that still remain about the day Isaias was shot, in LAist >>
Coverage of one of the protests for Isaias by ABC 7 >>
Coverage of a rally for Isaias and his family by KTLA 5 >>