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day 10September 13, 2003

Sleeping on Lake ADAPT

Kyle Glozier

Rally at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Gail Hafner

Bob Liston, co-chair of the march

Barbara Toomer

Andy Imparado of the AAPD

Diane McComb

Poetry at the Rally

Johnny sings to Daniel at the Rally

Michael Taylor

Julie Aird

Stephanie Thomas and Linda Anthony

Katy and Stephanie

Dinner with MCIL

 

 

Day 10 - Baltimore

By Tim Wheat

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the report is from my perspective on the day’s events. I keep notes throughout the day, however; because of the rain, my notes got soaked – the following is recreated mostly from memory.

The Free Our People Marchers in BaltimoreThere is some movement at 4:30 am, but at 5:30 it is clear that ADAPT is getting out of bed. It is a gray day outside at seven in the morning, but there is no rain. Of course, the leaders are planning for the worst kind of weather at the press conference. The decision is made to go with umbrellas only. Trying to set up tents and pack everyone in them is not very practical.

At 7:30 am scouts drive the route ahead to know their way and also to find problems and barriers before we actually march into a dead end. I jump out of the scout van and use a wireless internet hotspot to upload the stuff from yesterday. I catch a ride back to “the bubble” where ADAPT is just beginning to line up for the march into downtown Baltimore. “The bubble” is a name for the skating rink that we are sleeping in because it is a rounded dome over the ice.

When I get there, Bob Kafka yells across the lobby of the skating rink: “Sleeping on Lake ADAPT.” I realize that he has come up with a title for the eerie night many people spent in the green mist. The floor of the ice rink was dry concrete when ADAPT first set up camp, but it is now completely covered with dew – the floor is wet, and everything on the floor is also wet. All night people have been sleeping in this weird mist that seemingly rises from the cold floor. The green lights in the bubble give the fog a hazy green tint. 

My sleeping pad lies there in the water. It is wet to the touch. Fortunately, my sleeping bag, and clothes bag are on the pad, which helped them stay dry. Since all of my clothes are dirty, it is not much of a victory. Marsha Katz tells me that a blanket of hers touched the floor and behaved like a wick, soaking up water.

I am anxious about the press conference, so I assume my lack of clothes problems will wait until later. ADAPT has gathered outside in something similar to a line. Most people were anticipating rain and are wearing ponchos and have covered their controls with plastic bags. I help Weasel to cover his controls with bags that I scrounge from others in line. There is a brief talk with the police escort and the line heads out. Just as soon as we start moving, the rain comes. 

Crosby King from Maryland is leading the march today. The police use cruisers to block traffic and shepherd the Free Our People March into downtown. Over loud speakers the cops will tell motorists to “turn right if you are going to,” and other commands that will keep traffic out of our way. 

We are chanting loudly as we march into downtown. I believe the buildings close to each side of the street heighten the echo of our chants. All along the route people come to their doors to watch us pass. Crowds gather at the intersections and the doors of some of the stores along the way, people watch from their windows.

The police block President St, as we cross, and we head into the inner harbor. I rush ahead of the line to get some photos from the upper floors of the retail business that the March will pass. While I am ahead of the marchers, I notice that they are headed into a cul-de-sac. 

By the time I get back, Crosby has seen the barrier. Approximately 30 people have to turn around and head back down a curb ramp. The entire procession is stopped while we find an alternative route and the line is reformed behind Crosby. It is my memory that this is the first time that something like this has happened to the march.

The ADAPT column from the bubble arrives at McKeldin Square about 25 minutes early, the column from the Baltimore Hotel was 30 minutes early. The Inner Harbor square boarders a large fountain with running water called “The Waterfall,” and the USS Constellation forms a backdrop for the rally. Cheryl Hampson sings her new song “Lead On,” for the group as we wait for the rally to start. Anita Cameron follows her with two songs and Cheryl sings more until we begin on time at noon. Crosby begins the rally with a welcome and a speech, Gail Hafner then acts as MC. 

“We are marching for our lives, our freedom,” said Barbara Toomer of Utah. “We are marching for people in nursing homes and people at risk of being in an institution. We march for Congressional support and passage of MiCASSA. We will remind the nation that ‘We the People’ includes people with disabilities. ‘We the people’ includes people with mental illness. ‘We the people’ includes people with cognitive disabilities, sensory disabilities and the aging.”

Gail introduces Linda Merkle to the group. Linda is working to get out of a nursing home. “Being in a nursing home sucks and I want out,” said Linda. “My son was taken away. I want out; I want my life back.”

When Linda finishes talking, the chant rises up “Free Linda.”

Michael Taylor spoke next. He escaped from an institution and now works so that the money will follow the person.

“I was in Rosewood for 30 years. Now I am glad that I am free,” said Michael. “Get people out of institutions and nursing homes.”

“Nothing good happens in Washington without ADAPT,” said Andy Imparato the leader of AAPD. 

Jim Ward of the ADA Watch spoke about what this nation was spending to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. 

The highlight of the rally was Diane McComb, the Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office for People with Disabilities presented Gail a copy of the Governors Proclamation. Diane spoke about the state of Maryland’s Money Follows the Individual legislation and credited Gail and ADAPT for the work to make the legislation.

Following the Rally, ADAPT ate in the Square. Similar to the rally that began the march at the Liberty Bell, ADAPT marched out of town in the pouring rain. Everything got wet leaving Baltimore, and many people had problems with their wheelchairs because of the rain.

Photo of the Maryland Proclaimation At one point, I stayed back with Reuben, who was out of battery power. It was raining so hard I thought that I may be of assistance spotting the pick-up van, and loading. Phil, the driver of the van, didn’t need any help. There was a line of broken-down wheelchairs that lined the march route like a trail of breadcrumbs. I rode with Phil back to the march while Phil and Rubin headed for the campsite.

When I rejoined the march, the skies seemed to clear and the rain let-up. People along the route came out to see us pass; we spoke and passed out wet flyers to explain what we were doing. At about 4:00 we arrived at the Arbutus Fire Department, our home for the night.

We were welcomed by the Fire Department and settled in before dinner at 6:00. For all the wet marchers, the soup supplied by a Maryland Center for Independent Living was great. They had grilled hamburgers and hotdogs as well. We found that at all of our stops in Maryland so far we were given more food than we could possibly eat.

In the early evening the camp is lit by the nearly full moon and Pat King’s work lights over the sea of empty wheelchairs. The comforting sound of the generator starts up and some wet and tired people head for bed. Others are kept awake by the energy of the day. Pat finishes with the recharge about 11:00 and turns off the work lights. Almost everyone is asleep by this time. 

I hang with the late crowd until I just cannot stay awake any longer. I am the last to get to my tent and my tent-mates have not left me much room to sleep. It is a clear night, so I pull my pad and sleeping bag outside and get right to sleep under the stars.

- Tim Wheat

The National ADAPT website | The ADAPT Action Report | MiCASSA Information
A series of black and white photos of solemn ADAPT members
F   R   E   E          O   U   R          P   E   O   P   L   E
DRAWING: A t-shirt with the FOP logo on the front.

Get the official ADAPT Free Our People T-Shirt.

T-Shirt Order Form.

ADAPT’s FREE OUR PEOPLE “Songs of Freedom.” 

CD Order Form.

Original artwork from the Free Our People March - By Sher Stewart.

Photos of her work.

British style police officer with the universal access symbol on his hat. TEXT: Bobby Approved volumn 3.2 Text Graphic: Free Our People dot O R G

 

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