Disability Rights Activists’ Week Of Nonviolent Protest

Photo by Jerry Costly

ADAPT activists from across the nation gathered in Washington, DC and began our week of non violent, civil disobedience. We demanded President Obama act NOW to support the Community Integration Act. We were 150 strong and 53 ADAPT warriors were arrested. Justin Dart used to call us all patriots.Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 9.24.32 AM

For me, it is like coming home to be back on the line with my ADAPT sisters and brothers. A new disability kept me home for a couple years. That and the fact that I’ve reached wise crone age sent me down memory lane today. It was great interviewing old timers and youth about what the Community Integration Act means to them.

Elaine Kolb is a wheelchair riding cultural worker and artist who joined the disability rights movement way earlier than half the ADAPTERS were born. She performed We Will Ride prior to 1990, when the ADA gave us the right to accessible public transit.

“Too many of our people with disabilities have lived and died without ever experiencing the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship and recognition of our common humanity,” says Elaine about a wrong that would be righted by The Community Integration Act.”

Jasia is 24 years old and attending the action from Brighton, England. For her, The Community Integration Act is needed because “Disabled people have the same rights as everyone else to live in their own homes with freedom of choice.”

James Van Winkle of Houston sports a long, gray beard. He is a wheelchair rider who has been disabled twenty years. “People with disabilities deserve the same rights that everyone else has. We deserve a safe place to live the life we choose in our own homes.” He spoke of what community integration means to him as he showed pictures of whimsical artwork and useful products he makes.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 9.24.13 AMNicky Boyte is the mother of a twelve year old and wheelchair rider. She is an ADAPT leader who is committed to the Community Integration Act. “In two words, it says it all. Those words speak to the services and supports that would mean civil rights for people with disabilities.”

Having more youth in ADAPT means a way better social media presence. Look at all those tweets!

While we waited for a White House response to our demands, there was another trip down an old road. We were served Micky D’s burgers and fries with salad for the vegetarians.

After this quintessential ADAPT dining experience, we learned the President and his staff ignored our demands. That was when over 1/3 of us rushed the White House fence and were later arrested. Once all of us were reunited, we lined up single file and headed back to our home away from home.

It had been 80 degrees and many of us had sunburns. As we left a light rain cooled us. (In my state, they call that kind of rain an Oregon facial). Then later that evening a huge lightening and thunder storm let loose on Washington, DC. It was the universe honoring the strength and awesomeness of ADAPT.

How do you spell power?