On March 6th, 2012 George Hodgins, a 22-year old autistic man living in Sunnyvale, California, was murdered by his mother. In the aftermath of his killing, I and other members of the local disability community were concerned by the fact that the media covering his death focused mainly on expressing sympathy for his killer. Because he was disabled, George had been written out of the story of his own murder.
This past Friday, I helped organize a vigil for George and other disabled people killed by their family members. One of the names we read was Tracy Latimer’s, a disabled teenager killed by her father in 1993. Little did we know that as we spoke Tracy’s name, her 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.” Our vigil received sympathetic coverage in the press, but so did Robert Latimer’s call for legalizing the murder of disabled children.
It’s obvious that many in our society still regard the murder of disabled people as unimportant, or even desirable. But I’ve also learned that disabled activists can also have an effective on public perception, if we can find a way to get our voices heard.
On behalf of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, I am asking you join us in taking action. On March 30th, help us organize a nation-wide day of mourning for disabled people killed by family members and caregivers. Our goal is to hold vigils in cities across America to memorialize murder victims. Through your help, we hope to amplify our message: that disabled people deserve to live fulfilling lives free of violence.
We’re calling for volunteers to organize vigils in their local communities on or around March 30th. You may never have organized this kind of event before, but please know that you’ll have support – our first vigil was a success, and we can help you as you work to organize yours. If you want to help us take a stand against the violence facing our community, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send a message to society that the disability community has no place for the kind of “mercy” offered by Robert Latimer and others who view us as having lives not worth living. The time has come for us to fight back. On March 30th, help us make it happen.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network