09/19/18 PRESS ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information:
Stephanie Woodward: (585) 269-9184
Gregg Beratan: (610) 247-4188
Marilee Adamski-Smith: (715) 204-4152
WHO: National ADAPT
WHAT: Disability Activists Call on Alexander to Ensure the Freedom of All Americans
WHERE: Senator Lamar Alexander’s Apartment; 565 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001
WHEN: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 – Happening Now
Disability Activists Call on Alexander to Ensure the Freedom of All Americans
Washington, D.C. – When Latonya Reeves fled Tennessee in 1991, she was not hiding from domestic violence. She wasn’t wanted by the police, and she wasn’t evading debt collectors. She was escaping, an institution in Tennessee to live free in Colorado. Latonya and many like her traveled in what became a modern “Underground Railroad” from Tennessee to Colorado, leaving the Tennessee they loved for lives of freedom. Lives outside of institutions! These stories are what led activists from the national disability rights organization ADAPT to spend the day seeking out Senator Lamar Alexander. ADAPT activists wanted to explain the lengths Disabled Tennesseans and other Americans have been forced to go to, simply to enjoy the same freedoms most non-disabled Americans take for granted.
ADAPT activists spent the afternoon at Alexander’s office hoping that the stories of Tennesseans forced to live in exile to escape institutions would convince the Senator to cosponsor the Disability Integration Act (S.910/HR.2472), the groundbreaking legislation that will ensure disabled people’s right to live in the community. The bill guarantees that when institutional placement is offered that people must have the option to live in the community. When the talks with his office failed to secure his support for the DIA, and his staff continued to lie to them, ADAPT went to speak with the Senator at his DC apartment.
“When people like Latonya are forced to move thousands of miles from their families and friends just to get out of an institution something is terribly wrong” said ADAPT organizer Anita Cameron. “Everyone should have the choice to live in the community where we can work, raise our families, attend our churches and live our lives. The Government shouldn’t be choosing for us, and it – most certainly – should not be locking us away.”
ADAPT feels strongly that Alexander’s support, as the chairman of the Senate HELP committee, is a key to passing the legislation. Senator Patty Murray, the Committee’s ranking Democrat, cosponsored the bill in May. “Disabled Americans have waited too long to enjoy the freedom that Senator Alexander takes for granted. He is in a position to guarantee no one again loses their freedom or has to leave their home because they are disabled,” said ADAPT organizer Allison Donald from Memphis, Tennessee. “We thought hearing about people like Latonya from the comfort of his own home, would help him see how important it is to pass the DIA as soon as possible.”