March 2 - Disability Day of Mourning Event at Access Living

 

February 24, 2020 | by Jerome Palliser

Local Disability Community Commemorates Lives of Disabled Filicide Victims

CHICAGO, IL – As part of a nation-wide Day of Mourning, disability rights advocates in the Chicagoland area will be holding a vigil on Monday, March 2nd to honor the lives of disabled people murdered by their families and caretakers. The vigil is sponsored by the Institute on Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), UIC Disability Cultural Center, and Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago; the promoting partners are the following organizations: Coalition of Autistic and Neurodivergent Students (CANS), Autistics Against Curing Autism, Quirky Citizens Alliance in Chicago, and Chicagoland Disabled People of Color Coalition (Chicagoland DPOCC).

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people while advancing the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism, has compiled a list of over 1300 reported murders of people with disabilities by relatives or caregivers over the last 39 years. The total number of killings is likely higher than the amount which are reported in news media. This problem is made worse by irresponsible news coverage which presents these murders as the sympathetic acts of loving and desperate parents, by a justice system which often gives a lighter sentence to a parent who kills a disabled child, and by the dangerous cultural prejudice that says a disabled life is not worth living.

ASAN held the first Day of Mourning in 2012 as a response to the murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California, by his mother. ASAN has continued to organize the event each year, partnering with other disability rights groups including Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, ADAPT, and the American Association of People with Disabilities. Day of Mourning is a national event, with 30-40 participating cities each year.

Little public attention is paid to the disabled victims of these violent acts. Media coverage and public discourse about such killings frequently justifies them as “understandable” and sometimes “merciful,” rather than appropriately condemning these crimes and those who commit them. The national Day of Mourning is a time for the disability community to commemorate the many lives cut short. By honoring disabled victims of murder and celebrating the lives that they lived, these vigils send a message that disability is not a justification for violence.

The Chicago vigil will be held at the 4th floor of Access Living (115 West Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL) from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. The event is free and open to the public; doors open at 5:30 pm. The vigil will begin at 6:00pm; it will consist of brief background of the purpose behind Disability Community Day of Mourning, reading of names of disabled victims of murders in 2019-20, and a section where people could speak out and reflect on the vigil in an open mic format.

Live captioning and light refreshments will be provided. If you need any other accommodations, contact Timotheus Gordon Jr. at tgordo7@uic.com or 312-413-1647.