Monday, August 30, 2010

Speaking Out Once More for Our Rights

The following is a speech I gave today, August 30th, outside the Provincial Courthouse about the arrests on July 21st of myself and ten other activists at the Ontario Liberal Headquarters. The event was called as a press conference, although only one media representative showed up towards the end. I guess violations of our rights to freedom of expression are so commonplace now that they don't count as news. (Even at the last press conference I got the feeling that the media weren't really interested in the issue of the Special Diet, or our rights being trampled on, but more about the sensationalism of on OCAP "leader," and a disabled woman, myself, being arrested.)

During the G20, we only wanted to voice our outrage at the ableist government for taking away the Special Diet and not listening to us. Our protests were met with violence and blockades.

Then when we once again demonstrated against the unfairness of the government taking away our money, we are met with overreaction and arrests.

The charges should be dropped against our people!

Freedom of expression should not be penalized; the government is supposed to be working for us, and we need to be able to bring them our concerns and hold them accountable in their offices. We only seek justice and freedom and respect from our government. We won't accept that they turn us away with police and ridiculous accusations.

The speech I am reading today was prepared by myself, and read by my communication assistant. I need a communication assistant always to express myself fully. This is my right. But my rights were taken away from me when I was charged on July 21st. The police separated me fro my communication assistant, so I couldn't speak freely. This is terrible ableism! They also threatened to send me to the hospital. Again, that's terrible ableism, because they don't see people with disabilities as fully functioning people, but as people so weak as to need the care of hospitals.

Not only should the charges against me be taken away because my rights were abused, but the charges against our people should be dropped.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Liars, Hypocrites, and Jail Time Continued

That last entry was cut short by, well, technical computer/Internet difficulties and, of course, the complexities of life.  What happened to keep me away from continuing from where I left off matters little.  What does matter, though, is the story itself.

My previous entry was a speech I had written. On July 21, 2010, my friend and employee Lenny used a mega phone to read the aforementioned speech out of the office window of the Liberal (Provincial) Party Headquarters. Our peers down below, from both OCAP and DAMN 2025, cheered as we denounced the McGuinty government for cutting the Special Diet and the hypocrisy of the government's recent ridiculous spending spree. Nine other people were with us in that tiny office space, and one person hung a banner out the window. Nothing else was either touched or moved.

The action should have only taken 15 minutes, maybe 20 at the most, and then we were supposed to just leave.  Unfortunately, as Lenny neared the end of my speech, a bunch of cops burst into the room and dragged Lenny into the hall. Soon, all 11 people, including myself, were corralled us into the outer room.

Most people were cuffed and reprimanded by police, although they didn't tell people until much later what they were being charged with.  They did try to tell us that people from the Liberal Headquarters had told us to leave, but I sure never heard them.  In fact, they were very helpful to get us inside.

I was told to go sit by a wall. Two people from my group were in front of me, and everyone else was behind me.  Mostly the cops ignored me, and questioned and yelled at everyone else.  One cop asked  me if he could look in the bag on the back of my chair for identification, and I indicated my money pouch around my waist.  Fortunately, he understood, but I was anxious to get Lenny back with me so that I could communicate more freely.  My two friends in front of me helped me convey this to the cop (I could hear Lenny behind me telling them that it was against Human Rights to keep my communication assistant away from me.) I also told them that I needed Lenny with me for other kinds of assistance that day, because I had no one else scheduled. At that point, the cop actually said, "No problem, we'll call and ambulance for you and send you to the hospital." I almost exploded in fury! "No no no no no! I'm fine! I'm not sick!"

During all of this, I could hear one female officer (I'm pretty sure she was from that YouTube video, "Bubbles the Cop,")  yelling at Lenny and saying it was disgusting how I had been coerced into participating in the action. Lenny defended himself by saying that he had only been doing what I asked him to do, but the cops wouldn't listen.  By this time, Lenny was finally by my side, and I, filled with rage and indignation, spoke up and said that I had written that speech and asked Lenny to read it.  I added, "I am not a pawn!" Why was it so beyond belief for the cops that I might have  a brain in my head and want to stand up for my rights, especially since I would, in all probability, be losing a huge chunk of my monthly income?

Then I was charged with trespassing, as was Lenny. We were the only two who didn't also get charged with mischief and have to do a night in jail (I guess because it was too much work for them to find us an accessible paddy wagon and cell.)

Sometimes our ableist society kind of works in our favour.