Inclusion for disabled people is never easy or welcomed. Progress takes place when disabled people force society to change. The most successful force in my estimation is protest and civil disobedience. Within the disability community the group that has been most successful in this regard is ADAPT. I have the utmost respect for ADAPT--they have been on the front lines of the battle for inclusion for 25 years. This week ADAPT is at it again much to the chagrin of those they target. The target this week was Senator John McCain. At issue is a bill to expand Medicaid coverage to those that want in home care rather than being forced into a nursing home. Sponsored by Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter the bill is cosponsored by Clinton and Obama. According to news reports, McCain's Senate Chief of Staff did not know the senators position on the legislation.
ADAPT protests are hard to forget. They are led by Bob Kafka, national organizer, and ADAPT protests are a loud in your face assault. This weeks action was no exception. At least 20 disabled activists were arrested outside McCain's office in the Russell Senate Office Building and charged with unlawful assembly. Apparently McCain was not in Washington when the protest took place. ADAPT chose not to meet with McCain's staff. This should come as no surprise given the fact that McCain's Chief of Staff did not know the senators position on the bill in question. It is unlikely that McCain will ever meet with ADAPT members. This is unfortunate but to be expected as McCain has no interest in disability rights and groupd such as ADAPT.
I am hopefully embedding a short clip from Youtube here--this is my first attempt to include a video on my blog. ADAPT protests must been seen to be understood the power they have. These men and women of ADAPT are of central importance to social change. I think of them every day as I know without them ramps, elevators, lifts, and accessible buses I ride on would not exist if it were not for ADAPT. If there are heroes among the population of disabled people it does not include people like me. Rather it is those disabled people willing to risk the wrath of the government and police and their willingness to be arrested for a cause they believe in.
Paralyzed since I was 18 years old, I have spent much of the last 30 years thinking about the reasons why the social life of crippled people is so different from those who ambulate on two feet. After reading about the so called Ashley Treatment I decided it was time to write a book about my life as a crippled man. My book, Bad Cripple: A Protest from an Invisible Man, will be published by Counter Punch. I hope my book will completed soon.
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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
ADAPT and Social Change
Posted by william Peace at 7:50 AM
PhD 1992 in anthropology Columbia University, I am interested in disability rights and bioethics.
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Hello William -
The You Tube imbed worked fine, but I can't understand the words the protesters are chanting. Do you know what they are saying?
Thanks for your blog - I discovered it a few weeks ago and have been reading regularly (by Googling something about disability, I can't remember exactly what).
Sheryl, Great to know the video appeared as I hoped. The video and audio quality are not very good. ADAPT is a great organization but funding I suspect is a problem. The videos available that are of a higher quality come from news outlets that do not know anything about disability rights and misrepresent ADAPT. The protesters are chanting "Free Our People!". I cannot tell you how delighted I am when I see the fire and drive from ADAPT members. They have my utmost respect.
Thanks for blogging about this, William. These brave men and women have my respect as well. Some other chants outside McCain's office, as per various bloggers, were "Just like a nursing home, you can't get out!" and "ADAPT will not be moved!"
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