The news is full of our “leaders” who want to cut benefits, institutionalize us or ignore our basic human rights altogether. These stories can really get you down, if you let them. We always hear about the legislation and the negative stories, but you rarely see any of the positive news.
There are people and organizations that actively fight for the inclusion and freedom of people with disabilities; some work to empower individuals and give access to resources in their community, others work as a group to achieve a goal through “proper” channels or civil disobedience.
I personally, work for a center that helps individuals with disabilities with empowerment and assists with gaining, or regaining their independence. We are a powerful force in the lives of these individuals, but without proper advocacy and change we will not be able to help everyone. Organizations like People First, a group that formed from a collective frustration of being regarded as disabled first and people second, help with self-advocacy, normally, in a peaceful way. Then, there are groups that take a more direct approach; ADAPT being one of the more visible ones. During ADAPT actions, people are routinely arrested for being civilly disobedient, whether it’s blocking the parking deck exit for HUD headquarters, shutting down the Republican headquarters in Wisconsin or lying across the inaccessible capitol steps in Atlanta. ADAPT makes its point by engaging in direct, non-violent action. They force people to pay attention by making it impossible to ignore them.
I have always wanted to partake in an ADAPT action. One of my coworkers has been to several, but has never made the decision to go to jail. Arrests are common during these actions and I often wonder if I would be willing to be arrested for civil disobedience. I want to say I would, if only for the experience, but I suppose I’d have to be in that position to say for sure. Maybe I’ll find out at the next ADAPT action in DC this Fall.
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