Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2012) – The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Not Dead Yet and other disability rights organizations will be holding a vigil in Farragut Square Park from 6-8 PM this Friday, March 30th, in memory of disabled people murdered by their families and caretakers. This is part of a nation-wide Day of Mourning, during which disability rights activists in cities across America, including Chicago, New York, Sacramento, Dallas and 15 others, will hold events to remember members of the disability community whose lives were lost to domestic violence.
On March 6, George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man, was murdered by his mother in Sunnyvale, California. In response, ASAN held a vigil in Sunnyvale on March 16th. During the vigil, mourners read a list of names, beginning with Tracy Latimer, a disabled teenager killed by her father in 1993. At the same time as ASAN’s vigil was being held, Tracy’s father was speaking on a television panel for the Canadian Global News, arguing for legalizing the killing of disabled people – in the name of “mercy.”
When disabled people are murdered by caretakers or family members, many people justify these murders as “understandable,” or talk about the “burden” of caring for someone with a disability. This is the view that was aired on Canadian Global News, and in many news articles covering the murder of George Hodgins. Many people are quick to justify the murder of a disabled person, when they would offer no such justification if the murder victim were not disabled. Therefore, the national Day of Mourning is meant to demonstrate to the community that the lives of disabled people have value and that when an act of murder is committed, public sympathy should be with the victim, not the killer.
The vigil will be held at 6 pm ET at Farragut Square Park in Washington, DC on Friday, March 30, 2012. It is expected between 50 to 75 people will be in attendance.
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The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.