Thursday, January 22, 2015

#CultOfCompliance - Wheelchair Users Attacked by Police

Recently, video has surfaced of police trying to throw a man in a wheelchair from his chair. Allegedly, the individual ran over the officer's foot.


Here are some other incidents worth remembering. And these are just the ones caught on tape.

That's just five that happened to be caught on video. How many more are out there?

There are circumstances in which a person in a wheelchair might indeed threaten an officer. Wheelchair users are human. They can carry firearms. They can break the law. I do not believe, based on what we know, any of these incidents meet that standard. I would suggest the following guideline - if you, as a law enforcement officer, would not consider breaking the individual's legs, also do not knock them from their chair.

If a wheelchair user does something requiring a law-enforcement response, such as intentionally rolling over a foot (those chairs are heavy), two choices emerge. 1) Arrest/cite them. 2) Let it go, the way one might at a little nudge from a shoulder as someone brushes by you. There is no option #3 - dehumanize them.

Because that's what these acts are - dehumanizing and intentionally so, stripping away the one tool which allows a wheelchair user real independence. They say - your ability to be a human is contingent on our say-so.

And as always, notice the intersections. It isn't necessary to be black and a wheelchair user to be victimized, but when race and disability intersect, things get dangerous fast.

1 comment:

Paige Smith said...

It is interesting that Police officers can arrest people in wheelchairs for accidentally rolling over their foot. I have never thought of that incident happening before. I guess if the person in the wheelchair was threatening the police officer that is one thing, but if they are just rolling along that is a completely different story. electric wheelchairs