So just a quick fact about the Holocaust: in a effort to create a pure and superior race the Nazi’s not only murdered Jews but Gypsies (Romanian decent), Slavs, Mulattos, Homosexuals, and the Handicapped.
You may be wondering what that has to do with anything at all, and how it could possibly be relevant today. Well let me share a still very relevant poem by Martin Niemöller that I especially love and the answer may become more apparent.
“ First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”
In this fight FOR equality and AGAINST police brutality many people find themselves exempt, or find a certain margin of disconnect between themselves other marginalized people. We cannot use these feelings as an excuse to continue to look the other way in terms of police brutality and disenfranchised groups of people. Right now it may not be about you, but eventually it will be your turn. It has been painfully obvious in this fight against police brutality that no demographic is exempt, women, children, and the disabled are all targets as well.
What has become increasingly difficult for me to watch, is the lack of empathy when it comes to police interaction with people of varying forms of disability. Just here in Charlotte North Carolina, A deaf man by the name of Daniel Kevin Harris was gunned down after what police say a seven mile police chase took place. His brother commented that they both had negative experiences with police officers because of the inability to communicate with him, which is what triggered his fear. He was more than likely trying to get home in order to have someone translate for him. Witnesses say he seemed to be doing sign language in an effort to communicate before being shot to death. Should a difficulty communicating be a death wish?
After once again falling down the rabbit hole of facebook comments I found a plethora of individuals that could once again validate this mans death at every turn. No matter how undeserving it actually was. So how many more people have to die because of a miscommunication? May it be a language barrier or a hearing impairment? What’s more concerning is the lack of education in dealing with individuals with disabilities this puts ALL of our disabled family and friends at risk. They are already 50% of the victims of police brutality. So who do we call to help them when they are in need? Or when we as caretakers are in need of assistance? Because lets not forget the behavioral therapist shot while trying to assist his autistic patient. In reality disabled individuals are the reason for 15% of 911 calls, so why aren’t officers better equipped to handle these situations?
My younger sister has a disability and so does her boyfriend. He recently called 911, nothing was wrong and he was scared upon the arrival of the EMT’s, so because he wouldn’t open the door they called the police for assistance. Imagine how this incident could have very easily been tragic. He could have reacted in a way they may have perceived as threatening. So now we have to have conversations about how dangerous the police can be when essentially they should feel comfortable calling them when necessary.
So this isn’t a fight that black straight men are in alone, women, children and the DISABLED are in this fight too. We have to actually be in this as a united front because we are all in this together and we could all be victims at some point. We have to put enough pressure on our local police that they start to implement change and reform, in order to better police in our communities. We know that none of us are immune, so are you going to wait until this mass genocide affects you? Or continue to hope that you can skate by undetected?