Sunday September 24 2017

Return to 2017 Fall Action Reports

By Carol Tyson

Carol, an ADAPT activist from Washington DC

Hi. My name is Carol. I live in Washington, DC. A very dear friend of mine (who was with us today) introduced me to ADAPT before I acquired my disability years ago. Knowing that the disability rights movement existed, and had my back, helped me to fight and to live through some dark times. I’ve attended ADAPT actions in the past, to support. Today was the first day I participated as a member. I am so grateful and proud. It is super-late as I write this, so please excuse any rambling. … These are the highlights from my day.

I arrived at the hotel in time to grab a coffee just before the issues meeting. The medium-sized room was packed. We learned about the history of ADAPT, how it was started in the early 80’s in Denver, CO, by a group of rowdy activists to get lifts on buses. The movement spread across the country and, after years of actions, ADAPT won. Hearing this story retold was a perfect way to start my day – access to transportation is an issue I am passionate about. We learned that after the passage of the ADA ADAPT switched its focus, and began to work on getting our community out of nursing homes because they couldn’t access public transit. ADAPT is now calling for the passage of the Disability Integration Act which would, among other things, establish living in the community as a civil right. The lack of affordable, accessible, integrated housing would no longer be an excuse to keep people on waiting lists. (Sounds great!) We also learned that the Graham-Cassidy ‘healthcare’ bill would not only repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), but also demolish the Medicaid program as we know it. (AAAHH!)

After the issues meeting we moved into a larger room – even more packed. We learned dos and don’ts for how to respond in an action. A diversity statement was read and we were all reminded that it is important to acknowledge differences and diversity, to support ADAPT members of color, LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming members, to call each other out if needed, and to keep an eye out for each other, and be aware if anyone is being targeted. I was grateful to hear this as a priority of the group. We were reminded that while we are all participating because issues are important to us individually, we are also here representing and speaking out for our disability family who can’t be here this week.

Later (after a much need lunch and more water), we lined up and began our looooong march/roll in the unrelenting sun and heat to — ummm, I didn’t know where we were headed. We walked/rolled past houses and hotels, tourists and DC residents, chanting: ‘Our Homes, Not Nursing Homes! ‘Disability Integration is a Civil Right!’ and ‘Down with Nursing Homes! ‘Up with Attendant Care!’ Many people took flyers about ADAPT, some cheered us on. Eventually, we turned down a side path, and squeezed ourselves onto a narrow sidewalk leading to some pretty nice looking apartments that faced each other. Then, we were told we were at Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ home and we chanted even louder, so he would know we were outside. A press release explaining why we were there was read aloud – including asking the AG to do his job, and for the DOJ to enforce the ADA and the Olmstead Supreme Court decision. The action felt great, and was a huge success.

We squeezed ourselves back out, and returned to our marching line – chanting again – eventually making it back for a debrief. We heard from seasoned ADAPT members and those who were brand new; we sang, and expressed our excitement for the days of action to come. I met old and new friends – some who I’ve only know on Twitter. I got a little teary eyed (nothing new), but they were happy tears, fierce, ‘hey – we got some demands and we’re gonna be heard, and we deserve to exist’ tears. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. To anyone reading this, I’ll be thinking of you.

By Cal Montgomery
Chicago ADAPT

After a series of training meetings all morning, we headed out to lunch and then lined up in our teams — I was on the red team. It was hot. They handed out bottled water in line.

We headed down C in single file, turned left on 2, and filed down to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s home, where we met up with other teams. Using a portable ramp to get over a barrier, we crowded in as close as we could to our target and began to chant. I’m told two neighbors came out — one to say he wished he had a bigger dog and one to offer protesters water and chant with us. Another activist who was up front said that although Sessions wasn’t home, someone kept opening and closing the shades.

A couple of security guards showed up, listened for a moment and moved through the crowd and away. Apparently our sound system went down, so as Mike Oxford read out our demands from the back near me over an old-school loudspeaker, someone further up shouted them to the front. Sessions claimed during his confirmation that the U.S. “government is one of laws, not of men.” He promised “to see that the laws are enforced faithfully, effectively, and impartially.”

But the laws protecting our right not to be unjustly imprisoned are not enforced. We are forced into institutions. Many of us die there. Our Lives and Liberty, promised to us in the Declaration of Independence, are routinely denied. Today, ADAPT insisted that Sessions admit that forcing us into institutions violates our Constitutional right to Liberty.

We insisted he work with the disability rights community, including ADAPT, to enforce the Olmstead rights of people in nursing homes nationwide. We insisted he work with the autistic community and ADAPT to change the conditions of institutionalized people at one institution, the Judge Rotenberg Center by stopping one of the aversive procedures they use in the process of applied behavior analysis.

And in light of the deplorable conditions faced by disabled people after recent disasters, we demanded he work with NCIL and ADAPT to ensure our civil rights and liberties are protected when disaster strikes. When the group was confident that we had been heard, we marched back to the hotel to meet up with the activists who attended the second action and go to a big meeting to debrief and prepare for tomorrow.

By Kimberley Jackson
Denver ADAPT

We started to line up around 1:30 in the afternoon by color group. As this is my first national action, it was a little daunting to get in a line with hundreds of other advocates, many in power wheelchairs like myself, and follow the leader without knowing exactly where you are headed or how long it will take. Add in the 90 degree heat and humidity, and it took an act of faith to keep going.

Eventually the red team split from purple and orange, and we were lead over a cobble stone driveway that was a roller coaster of ups and downs. We finally arrived at courtyard outside of three houses. After everyone was packed in, it was announced that we were at the house of Jeff Sessions, the US Attorney General. As we were told by the ADAPT leaders, the Department of Justice hasn’t done anything to enforce the ADA or the Olmsted Act under the current administration.

While we were there, it was reported that one of Mr. Sessions’ neighbor came out to talk with us. When someone gave the example of an older woman being forced to go into a nursing home because of needing some help at home, he responded that that was how it should be. One of his neighbors came out, and started arguing with him about how ADAPT was right. Mr Sessions either didn’t come out or wasn’t home, but we promised him we’d be back.

We mostly rode back the way we had came, rolling and walking in the street to avoid problems with sidewalks and curb cuts. We were all dragging from the heat, and more than a few people had to pull to the side to cool off. I think everyone was happy to be back in the hotel air conditioning at the end of the day. All in all, it was a great start to the action.

By Liam Dougherty
Philadelphia ADAPT

It was Adapt’s first day in Washington DC. I woke up around 7am, got an Egg McMuffin, and went to the Issues Update meeting in the conference room at the Holiday Inn. Bruce Darling and Mike Oxford talked about Adapt’s mission, in the past and present. Its current priority is getting government to provide affordable, accessible, integrated housing, instead of the isolation of life in a nursing home. We also talked about the Disability Integration Act, legislation that was made by Adapt, crafted to end the “institutional bias” and grant fundamental civil rights to people with disabilities.

Then we had a full meeting, with all 200 Adapters. It was amazing to see so many of us, with all kinds of disabilities and assistive equipment. We discussed some rules of our actions, such as always traveling in an unbroken single-file line. Then I went over to the Media meeting (#adaptandresist) and lined up with the rest of the Blue team to go.

We marched for about an hour, through 90-degree weather, chanting and playing noisemakers and tambourines. Day-leaders brought a small ramp, which we used to jump the curb to get to Attorney General Jeff Session’s home. We chanted and shouted, saying he is not doing his job in protecting the civil rights of our people. One of his neighbors came out and yelled at us, saying we had no right to go to somebody’s home and harass them. We responded that it is the only way to get his attention, and that it must be nice to have a home in the first place, and not to be forced into a nursing home.

We marched back and had a big recap meeting. Now I am sitting in the hotel lobby, tired and still sweaty. We are all bracing for the next day of the action.