May 21, 2019; Disability Scoop
The disabilities rights group ADAPT (originally, Americans Disabled for Attendant Programs Today) turned out in a peaceful protest at the US capitol on Monday to emphasize their right to resist institutionalization. NPQ has covered this campaign over a period of a number of years.
ADAPT often uses civil disobedience in advocacy action, and 80 of the demonstrators were arrested for misdemeanors outside the headquarters of the US Department of Health and Human Services, where they were trying to get a meeting with Secretary Alex Azar. Their goal was to convince him to fund community-based services for people with disabilities. This access is, as they have said before, a matter of basic human rights and freedom. This is the group’s platform: No one should be forced into a warehousing situation because they are disabled or elderly.
ADAPT activists also occupied the offices of 19 Democratic members of the House of Representatives on Monday to confirm their support for the Disability Integration Act. According to a press release issued yesterday, the action was a success:
After yesterday’s historic action where ADAPT occupied 19 offices of Democratic Representatives and secured 19 cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act (HR.555). Today, DIA has 172 cosponsors and ADAPT has secured the commitment of 33 representatives to cosponsor the bill or vote for it. ADAPT returns to the House Office Buildings to seek additional cosponsors.
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“We are thrilled,” said Dawn Russell, an ADAPT organizer from Denver, CO, “With this level of support, we are confident we will be able to obtain the necessary 14 votes to secure a majority of the House of Representatives.”
DIA would ensure the basic rights of life, liberty, and freedom to elderly and Disabled Americans by ending the institutional bias which limits availability of home and community based services and supports and forces elderly and disabled people into nursing facilities and institutions.
Since the reintroduction of the Disability Integration Act on January 15, 2019, ADAPT members and disability advocates from across the country have contacted and made multiple asks of every Democratic member of the House for their co-sponsorship. “This is not new to any of them,” said Misty Dion from North Central Pennsylvania ADAPT. “ADAPTers have called, emailed, and visited these offices asking them to hear our concerns and ‘free our people.’ Our freedom is tied to the decisions of these representatives, and in their silence we know their answer.”
With the passage of the Equality Act in the House, Democrats are portraying themselves as champions of civil rights while Disabled Americans die—every day—in institutions. Sophie Poost, an organizer with Rochester ADAPT said, “We’re giving Democrats the choice; they can be known for supporting disability freedom or blocking it.”
Coverage of the action was very muted, so far as we could determine. Where is the press on this issue?—Ruth McCambridge