Reflections January 7, 2021 of Yesterday’s U.S. Capitol Riots
Those who know me/worked with me over almost 40 years of Public Policy impact, know that I have been neither the most conservative nor the most liberal. I have tried to be an honest, informational, educational voice for lawmakers to work with people with disabilities, advocates & families to craft the needed public policy and services for equal access in our communities.
While I consider myself a moderate who works hard to learn and understand both sides of an issue to help craft a useful and workable compromise, this morning I find myself seeing no compromise in the defense of our Republic and Democracy in our country.
I will not go back to our founding fathers and mothers to discuss our democracy and my current sadness on yesterday’s violent occurrences. I will simply speak of things I remember and/or I experienced – and how it illustrates disparate treatment and how we must move forward now to heal this country.
Over 30 years ago, during consideration of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Congress, people with disabilities crawled up the steps of the U.S. Capitol as it demonstrated that our crutches and our wheelchairs had limited or no access and we did not have the same rights as our neighbors in our communities.
People with disabilities have chained themselves to buses, sat in Congress, Statehouses, and government buildings to demand our rights and access – even when these rights were already in law and not being enforced or completed in the needed administrative rules. And we were arrested, dragged out in our wheelchairs – and if immovable – dragged out of our wheelchairs, taken away from our needed mobility and medical devices and arrested.
So here is my question today from an old white guy with a lifelong disability:
Why were people with disabilities arrested when we protested for our rights, but rioters who engulfed the U.S. Capitol yesterday by and large were not? They were simply herded out of the Capitol after destruction trying to stop the acceptance of the Electoral College votes for our President. (Full disclosure: so far about 50 of the thousands were arrested.)
Now, I am not a person of color, but of the thousands of persons who overran the U.S. Capitol yesterday and were not stopped or arrested by law enforcement – of all the news coverage pictures – I visually saw only one person of color. Contrast this with the many Black Lives Matter protests and the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square near the White House who were either arrested or violently pushed out.
I’m not asking you to simply agree with me, but please quietly in your own mind and heart consider the question: Are people with disabilities and others treated differently? Have yesterday’s riots and protests bought this treatment again into the stark light of day to be addressed? I’m just saying. . .