Rochester Area Disability Community Commemorates Lives of Disabled Filicide Victims, for More Info click here!

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Rochester Area Disability Community Commemorates Lives of Disabled Filicide Victims

As part of a nation-wide Day of Mourning, disability rights advocates in the Rochester area will be holding a vigil Saturday, March 1, 2013 to honor the lives of disabled people murdered by their families and caregivers.

Over 40 such murders have been reported in the United States in the last five years, ten in the last year alone. In the year since our last Day of Mourning, our national disability community has lost at least ten more victims. In January of 2014 alone, two more people with disabilities were lost in murder-suicides at the hands of their parents: Damien Veraghen, age nine, and Vincent Phan, age twenty four.  The total number of killings is likely higher than the number reported in news media. In addition, this count does not include elder homicides which which often involve elders who also have disabilities.

In a horrifying trend, parents and caregivers, those whom one should be able to trust most, are committing murder against people with disabilities in their care.  We must address violence against people with disabilities and speak out against the dangerous cultural prejudice that says a disabled life is not worth living.

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Not Dead Yet, and the National Council on Independent Living 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. The Day of Mourning is a national event, with 15 – 20 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 seems to justify 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 events send a message that disability is not a justification for violence.

The Rochester vigil will be held at the Center for Disability Rights at 497 State Street, and begins at 1:00 p.m. Speakers will include Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake of the national disability rights organization Not Dead Yet, which is headquartered in Rochester and a co-sponsor of the national Day of Mourning effort.

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) is an inclusive international non-profit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN seeks to advance the vision of the disability rights movement in the world of autism. Drawing on the principles of the cross-disability community on issues such as inclusive education and community living, ASAN focuses on organizing the community of autistic adults and youth to have our voices heard in the national conversation about us. In addition, ASAN works to advance the idea of neurological diversity by furthering the view that the goal of autism advocacy should not be to create a world without autistic people. Instead, it should be to create a world in which autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens.

Not Dead Yet is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so-called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worthless.

The National Council on Independent Living is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), individuals with disabilities, and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.

Link can be found below:

Thank you,Dean DeRusso
Deaf Systems Advocate
Regional Center for Independent Living (RCIL)

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