SEIU affiliate in New York calls Olmstead plan dangerous, linking it to incidents of gun violence in Newtown and West Webster
That’s right! The union representing New York State workers in professional, scientific, and technical positions is linking Olmstead implementation and the closure of a state developmental center to incidents of gun violence!
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Using this link, send a message telling the union, its parent union, and the state legislators who attended the union’s press conference that the disability community won’t tolerate its fear mongering, scapegoating and disability profiling!
Last Friday, on March 8, 2013, the Public Employees Federation (PEF) – a self-governing affiliate of SEIU – held a press conference responding to the proposed closure of the Monroe Developmental Center in Rochester, NY. In an effort to save union jobs at the facility, PEF said that it wanted “to alert the community to the dangers of closing facilities which house the clinically mentally disabled.” In the PEF press release, Randi DiAntonio, Council Leader of PEF Division 259 at Monroe, said “These people need specialized supports for their behavioral issues. Our members, who are doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, social workers and other professionals, are increasingly concerned about the safety and wellbeing of these individuals, their families and the communities where they are being sent.”
The PEF press release went on to say that approximately 90 individuals in the facility “will move into the community at large, despite assessments by courts and/or the state that they have been determined as being a danger to themselves and/or others and require the highest levels of security. Many of these individuals have committed crimes, including sexual offenses and other behavioral and psychiatric histories.”
PEF also capitalized on concerns about gun violence in Newtown and West Webster. The PEF press release stated, “In the wake of the horrific incidents in Newtown and in West Webster on Christmas Eve, the professionals whose lives are affected day to day have a message to the Governor and to the community at large. The process by which the Governor intends to ‘deinstitutionalize’ under his Olmstead Implementation Plan is not a working plan. It is a dangerous one…”
It is appalling that in an effort to preserve their union jobs, PEF is perpetuating stereotypes that people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities need to be locked up because they are dangerous. Even worse, they have taken advantage of and given credence to erroneous media reports speculating that the Newtown shooter’s autism contributed to the incident and unfounded statements made by the police chief in West Webster linking that shooting incident to the deinstitutionalization of people with psychiatric disabilities.
PEF was joined by two state legislators. Republican Assemblyman Mark Johns, who attended the press conference, echoed PEF’s bigoted language, “We cannot allow these types of people to get out on the street into the community as much as we want to main line everybody.” Democratic Assemblyman Harry Bronson indicated that he supported closure of the facility, but reinforced PEF’s concerns saying, “Put a plan forward so we can continue the closure but in a way that’s going to meet the needs of the individuals, their families and the community.”
This is the latest example of a growing trend to scapegoat people with disabilities in the debate over gun control, but it is the first time that such rhetoric directly uses these incidents as a reason to oppose implementation of an Olmstead plan.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Tell the union, its parent union, and the state legislators who attended the union’s press conference that the disability community won’t tolerate its fear mongering, scapegoating and disability profiling!
Use this link:
Deaf Systems Advocate
Regional Center for Independent Living (RCIL)