adapt action report; news, commentary and photos of adapt actions across the nation.

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Voices

An ADAPT Action Journal 

First-hand accounts of the action 
direct from ADAPT Activists.

ADAPT on the March

Nadina LaSpina


New York City ADAPT

 


Monday, Feb. 28

I sit in my chair facing the White House, my right hand handcuffed to the fence. Wet snow keeps falling at a steady pace. I have 8 layers of clothing on me, on my head two hats and a hood, and on my face a mask. I have activated carbon warmers inside my gloves and in strategic places on my body. Yet I can't stop shivering.

"You're crazy to go on an action in the middle of winter," my life partner (Danny), well aware of my many health problems, told me before I left. "Admit it, you're not as tough as you used to be." As I sit shivering, I keep hearing his words. I tell myself I better not get sick or I'll never hear the end of it.
Police move Claude  at the White House
"I wish the police would arrest us already, and take us inside," I say to Elaine from CT, who's right next to me. To pass the time we try to remember how many times we've been arrested chained to this fence.

It's certainly not the first time I freeze my butt with ADAPT. Columbus, OH comes to mind. At least, then (I try to remember what year that was), they arrested us pretty quickly. Why aren't they arresting us now? We've been chained to this fence, it seems to me, for hours. And all the cops are doing is standing around watching. I can't stop shivering. I long for the warmth of a police station.

When the color leaders come to round up people to go and block the gates, I applaud. Blocking the gates has always been the surest way to get arrested. I wait for Mike Oxford to start chanting (our clue) and as soon as he does I eagerly take off. I'm right behind Chris from Rochester. I guess we're the first to get to the gate.

Governing toward Community with ADAPT blocking a street in the background.There are three cops standing guard in front of the gate. I see Chris positioning himself in front of the cops and I try to do the same. But one of the cops, suddenly, extends his arm and hits me hard across the chest. So hard that my chair flips backwards. My seat belt keeps me in the chair. Chris later tells me that my head made a big noise when it hit the ground. I don't hear the noise. I'm just stunned. Beata from Syracuse later tells me that the cop that sent me flying then helped to get me back up. How nice of him. But I don't remember.

"Do you want to leave?" Chris asks me, as soon as my chair is back on its wheels. Of course not! I'm not a wimp! It's not the first time I get roughed up by the police! But I'm not just shivering now. I'm shaking. I try to hide it but Beata keeps asking if I'm all right. Sure I am, I repeat. Anyway, they'll soon arrest us and we'll all go inside and get warm.

But nothing happens. I'm not even sure how long we're there. My watch is buried under all my sleeves and gloves. The snow is falling harder now and it's starting to get windy. I keep shaking. The back of my neck is starting to hurt. But I chant along with the others to prove to myself how tough I am. "What does it take to get arrested in this town?" I say to Beata. We both laugh.

When it's obvious that we're not going to have any arrests, our leaders decide to have us go back to the hotel. Beata offers to push me. I decline, but then I think it over. I don't need to prove anything else. As a matter of fact, I think we've all proved today how tough ADAPT activists are. I'm happy to let Beata push me. I sit back, my arms tightly crossed, trying to keep my body from shaking. 

ADAPT delivers a copy of the Resolution to the NGA.

Marsha Katz


Missoula Montana
13 years with ADAPT

 


From the first happy “hellos” as we arrive at an action, to the final teary goodbye hug, what I feel overwhelmingly is that “this is my family.”

Emotional meeting out in the tent connected to the Holiday Inn.We struggle together, we fight for our community together, we sit for hours “on the line” together, and together we survive rain, sleet, snow, unbearable heat, traffic, no curb cuts, rough pavement, cold burgers from McDonalds, and being ignored by people in power who don’t find us rich enough or pretty enough no matter how right we are.

We also celebrate the births of our children, and mourn the deaths or our friends. We notice how much each little one grows from action to action, hear about graduations, awards and illnesses. We celebrate anniversaries, hold weddings, and scatter ashes.

We hold each other up, and together we bear witness to the truth of being denied our civil rights and our freedom. And then together we demand our rightful place at the table, once again surprising the bureaucrats with how much we know.

We come together twice a year to fight for our rights, but we are linked every minute of every day by the truth that keeps us whole and keeps us fighting against any odds … we are family, and for that I am ever-grateful.

Cindy Hancock

Cindy Hancock


Rochester New York
6 years with ADAPT


Bob Kafka introduces Senator Tom HarkinI traveled to Capital Hill and I spoke to government representatives about the purpose of ADAPT. I also talked about the importance of passing MiCASSA and how it affects the lives of citizens with disabilities of our country. I distributed literature that explains the specifics of the bill and how it would improve quality of life for thousand of disabled in the USA.

Today, as well as yesterday, I felt “awesome.” I was cold yesterday, but would not give up because ADAPTers do not give up. I’m proud to be a part of such a powerful caring group.

 

Christine with Sen. Harkin

Christine Woodell

D’Iberville, Mississippi
6 years with ADAPT


The Capitol Building I went to visit Congress today. I saw a young man at this first action speak eloquently to the Congressman’s assistant, clearly expressing our issue despite speech difficulties. How many American’ have that ability? 

I see the leaders, passionate about the issues, committed to ADAPT yet caring about the individual as much as the cause. It shows people who actually live their beliefs. I was visiting on of our congressmen and he came out, shook my hand and listened – Then a fellow ADAPTER, Dawn, Came in behind me and said “I am a Mississippian and I had to move away to get services. I want to come home to Mississippi.”

What power in that statement! What power in her presence. What an honor to be surrounded by people who don’t just talk the talk – but people who really walk the walk – concerned with the big picture of the action but also the individual participating.

A Metro Police officer outside the JW Marriott

Cecil Walker

Iola, Kansas
6 years with ADAPT


Police attempt to block ADAPT from the White House gate.ADAPT folks were just amazing yesterday with all the cold and snow. They hung in there as always. It got pretty exciting when we tried to keep the Governor’s busses from leaving. The Secret Services and police had picked everyone’s chair up to move them out of the way so the buses could leave. 

It took around 30 or so of them to get us out of the way. 

The red color group was the last of the color groups to arrive at the Governor’s hotel. We were happy to see that the other color groups had taken the hotel doors and started taking the intersection. 

At the White House everyone kept up the chanting even with all the snow flying. I was really surprised when we took the gates to the White House that they didn’t arrest us. That is the first time that that has ever happened. With the cold and snow the ADAPT folks were just awesome.

FREE OUR PEOPLE!

 

Johnny sings to the crowd before Harkin arrives.

Brooke Jaqueth

Missoula Montana
2 years with ADAPT


ADAPT marches past the US Capitol.I was at the rally at the end of the freedom march last summer. What an experience! I started crying when the marchers came into the park. I have never been so moved in my entire life!

The two national actions that I’ve been to were awesome! And so empowering. What pride I take in my disabilities!

Claude Holcomb

Ben Barrett

Trego Wisconsin
2.5 years


A street barrier that reads N G A.On the way to the NGA we passed a pissed off gentleman. He had his window open and hollering “hey you all have got to stop for the lights it’s the law.

I am terribly disturbed, the Supreme Court stated: “least restrictive” it seems as though those of us who are disabled have a law that applies only to us (we’ll care for you in a nursing home) regardless of the Supreme Court Olmstead ruling.

Society has been segregating us for more than 120 years. If we offend you while breaking the law and not stopping for traffic lights or by assembling without a permit, fine, how does it feel? You offended us first by denying freedom to us as a first option. 

Claiming costs are too high what’s the cost to you?

Larry Sisco

Larry Sisco

Reisterstown, Maryland
7 months with ADAPT


This is my testimony and feeling on the National ADAPT event 2005. Let’s go back and let me give you a little background of where I come from. I was born in Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, MD because at the time that was the nearest hospital from the little town of Elkridge just over the Palapsco River into Howard County Maryland. There was nothing much there in Elkridge except ball fields, a post office, drug store, IGA and the Elkridge National Band and the Palapsco State Park. One on each side of the river, either Baltimore County or Howard County. 

Elaine Kolb leads ADAPT in a song.I was born of a perfectionist mother and don’t recall spending many memorable moments with my dad. Later on in the life, my relationship with my dad became a little volatile. This was a culmination of a happy early childhood up to about 12 and then a very rocky, up and down, manic adolescence. I had few friends because I was a loner with no self confidence and no self esteem.

My whole life had been an empty pit of depression never able to live up to expectations of this and that and I just don’t know. I just wanted to run away. I just wanted to go. I just want someone to love.

Let me share just one experience in an institution that I had. I was an old hat at running away from home and I never did it without my mom’s car, which was the second car, in which I was inheriting but it wasn’t mine yet. Anyway I was on the run with all my belongings in my mom’s Dotson B-210 (1973).

I believe it was early 1977, January? February? Somehow I ended up in N.E. DC doing circles around Catholic U. I was becoming manic, restless and the total lack of sleep was starting to send me into a psychosis. I became euphoric, delusional, grandiose, and pumped with adrenaline. I was in a strange place that no one in their right mind would want to be stranded.

Now I was not just lost but am now stranded and becoming more and more confused. Anyway to make a long story short after changing my shirt (not undershirt) someone reported that I was taking off my clothes and exposing myself or something. Well, it wasn’t long before the wagon rolled around and the shackles were on and there I was on my way to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in South DC. I had gold-belled silver-plated trumpet stolen and was being chased by a big dude with a pool stick. I wasn’t told anything about why I was being picked up and was pleading for some kind of explanation. The only thing I got was a shot of Theorize and Malarial and had such a sever reaction that I had partial paralysis and couldn’t move my jaws to speak. I was at the mercy of this big guy with the pool stick but fortunately nothing happened.

This was just one scene in with the institutional life. The system just wants to contain all the patients involved out of their own fears born out of ignorance of mental illness. To tear down the walls of institutions today I think we must first get all involved in the best interest and the pursuit of happiness – you know that inalienable right of every American and a person with mental illness is valuable life as unique and valuable as any other’s on earth. They are not the low life, insignificant, worthless, piece of existence that just in the way of some better, more intelligent, more fruitful life form. The system can be changed but until time affects change of course with a determination of the people will to sacrifice to make change. In the mean time we have to make choices independently of the system because they don’t have our best interests at heart. 

We have to be accountable for our own lives. St. Elizabeth’s to me was or could have been life or death for me. I chose to go on. I’m here now and finally I’m grown and never will listen to any psychologist, psychiatrist to trust them completely with my life. I need my medication but nobody needs their lives controlled by a monopolizing system. Great injustices are being done under the name of mental health.

Free our people from institutions and let’s truly rehabilitate them in a human fashion. 

 


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