Thursday, September 29, 2016

#CripTheVote - Tim Kaine reads a letter from Mike Phillips

As folks know, I've been writing a lot about the Clinton campaign's robust engagement with disability rights. Hillary Clinton has run the most progressive, most inclusive, campaign on disability rights in American presidential history. That doesn't mean she - and the movement - doesn't have a lot of room to grow. But for me, part of my activism is celebrating victories to motivate me for the next struggle.

Above is a tweet from CNN reporter Betsy Klein showing three pictures, with the caption ".@timkaine met campaign volunteer Mike Phillips today in FL. He has spinal muscular atrophy. Kaine choked up reading the letter he wrote him."

  • The first is a video of what looks like a wheelchair at the base of the stairs leading up to the Clinton/Kaine plane.
  • The second is Kaine standing at the podium, Phillips' letter in his hand, reading. 
  • The third is the transcript, which I'll replicate below.
The transcript reads:

12:19:32 There's a really wonderful guy from Tampa named Mike PHillips He's quite an interesting young guy, he severely, has a severe disability, but he said look, that ain't limiting me. That's not limiting me. And he's become an expert in working with Apple and other companies to develop assistive technologies that will help people in their home, in their school, in their workplace. And he has developed amazing technologies, and he and his mom came out to meet with me and, on the subject, he gave me something, and I didn't tell him I was going to do this, but I was reading it as I was driving over, I just thought I would read it to you. Because this is about a community of respect, this is who we want to be. This is from Mike Phillips.

12:20:12 [reads letter] Sen. Kaine, it's an honor to meet you. You are part of a very unique campaign. It's one that I always hoped to see [chokes up] You and Secretary Clinton are running a presidential campaign that consistently talks about people with disabilities. You have actual disability policy written. I have been waiting my entire voting life for candidates like you and Secretary Clinton, candidates who know about and care about disability issues. I really believe that the federal government is America's heart. It steps in to right America's wrongs. Slavery, desegregation, women's rights, LGBT rights ... the federal government stepping in and doing what was right. And I hope that you and Sec. Clinton will push disability rights forward. I hope you work to end the false perception that we're broken, that we're less than. I never wanted to not be disabled. I wouldn't be me otherwise. I simply want the tools to, as a fine Methodist lady once put it, live up to my God-given potential. That's all anyone wants, really. Some just need help accessing those tools. I'm glad for you and Sec. Clinton this election cycle because I know you're fighting for us, all Americans including Americans who have disabilities.

12:21:19 Man, that gives me some energy. That's what the campaign is about. We're stronger together.


Many things to love about that letter, but among them, I cherish Phillips' assertion of a progressive philosophy of government designed to create equality of opportunity. 

With/Out Discipline - Public Engagement and the PhD

I'm giving a talk at Western Michigan University today - With/Out Discipline - Public Engagement and the PhD.
In this talk, David explains how public engagement works in the modern media age, draws connections between his scholarship as a medievalist and his work as an activist/journalist, and argues that we need to find ways to support and protect academics who choose to participate in public discourse.
I did a lot of writing in The Chronicle and elsewhere for the first couple of years as I moved into public writing. When I put together this talk, I realized that I haven't done as much higher education writing lately, and certainly not work on public engagement. Thanks to my disability rights work, I've been busy just doing it, rather than theorizing about it. But I enjoyed getting back to that kind of writing for this talk, and especially reading the work of Jessie Daniels, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and others who think about this.

I'll post a few snippets from the talk tomorrow.

In the meantime, some of my writing on the subject, for anyone interested.
Key pieces
Other essays on public engagement for both individuals and institutions.
What is a university?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Alfred Olango - Developing Story

7:20 CST 9/28:

Alfred Olango was a disabled black man living in El Cajon, CA (near San Diego). His sister called 911 due to either a mental health crisis and/or a seizure (reports are unclear). Police showed up and ... after a disputed set of incidents ... shot him. He died.

There's horrible video of his sister crying at the scene and a lot we don't know. My tweet below with its threaded replies will take you to some of what I do know.
A few thoughts:

1) It seems most likely that police approached him and told him to put his hands where they could see them, he didn't comply, and things escalated. This is the #CultOfCompliance. This creating a context where the disabled person, who may literally not be able to comply, is at incredible risk. It's possible that this "most likely" scenario is not what happened and I will update if we learn more.

2) El  Cajon Police have released selected statements and stills. That is not the way to rebuild trust. I recommend Nick Selby's recent blog post about the necessity for departments to release footage.
Unfortunately, for reasons that are both true and false, the relationship between the police and the communities they serve has in some cases deteriorated. This is inarguable. The police, therefore, must adopt data release policies and strategies designed to demonstrate their trustworthiness.
El Cajon is not adopting data release policies - with a carefully selected still and a few tweets - designed to demonstrate trustworthiness. Other departments should learn from this.

More to come, updated here as appropriate.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What Is Public Engagement?

I am not a fan of the label: Public Intellectual.

I think it's used to valorize certain kinds of public activity - oped writing, essays in fancy literary magazines, prestige stuff - and not others. For me, activism, community arts (music, theater, fine arts, etc.), working with local farmers, volunteering, and more, are at least as valuable acts of public engagement as a fancy essay in the New Yorker. When scholars engage the broader public, however you define it, in ways inspired or informed by their expertise, they are being public intellectuals.

Today I'm joining a professor of communication, of social work, and our director of ministry to discuss this at Dominican, where I teach. One day every fall we cancel classes to hold a symposium around the concepts of Caritas et Veritas, the motto of the Dominican Order of Preachers. Program is here.

My panel is:
11:15am F. Public Intellectualism, Scholarship, and Engagement
John DeCostanza, Jacob Lesniewski, David Perry, CarrieLynn Reinhard
This panel will address public engagement, community-based learning, community-based research, public intellectualism, and public scholarship. Each panelist sees the ability, and indeed the necessity, of engaging with the public outside of the classroom and off the college campus as a primary indicator that they have managed to fulfill their calling as academics and professionals in academic settings.
Watch for tweets using the #PublicScholars hashtage today.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Rape of Lucretia: How Trigger Warnings Work

I am teaching of version of Western civilization which my students meet in person about 75% of the time and about 25% of the time online. I love it. I use that online time and space to build connections among the students that in fact it might not happen in class and also to find different ways for students to engage with and process the readings actively. They do a little work in which they read, they do some online discussion, they listen to me give them kind of mini podcast lectures – just 3 to 8 minutes each – on topics to help them with the reading, then they do some primary sources and they come back to class ready to do more active kinds of engagement.

Last week, I was preparing my podcast lecture for Rome. It's not a standalone thing that I can put on the Internet in any open kind of way, but is is the kind of material I would give them if we are meeting face-to-face when they engage with the textbook chapter. Part of the story of Rome is the story of the rape and suicide of Lucretia.

This is a post about content warning, so let me give you a content warning. In the the next paragraph I'm going to describe a story of rape and suicide, but you can just skip ahead and get to the point if that's not something you want to read.

Lucretia was noblewoman in the city of Rome who died around 510 BCE, or at least so the story goes as preserved in Roman memory. She was raped by Sextus Tarquinus, the son of the king of Rome, an event that led to the fall of the kingdom and the establishment of the republic. Lucretia told her husband or father, depending on which legend we're discussing, then killed herself to preserve her honor. The nobles rose up overthrew the Kings, and established an oligarchical republican system.

On the recording, I said: So I'm gonna tell a story now about rape and suicide, it's also in your textbook. You don't have to read it there and if you want to just skip ahead 30 seconds or so in the recording that's no problem. I'm going to tell you that this story, which quite possibly did happen, led to an uprising, the early establishment of their Republic and the general Roman loathing of kings. Then I told the story more or less as I did above.

I don't know if any of my students are going to skipped that 30 seconds. I do know that in a class of 25 students, some of them have almost certainly experienced sexual assault. I'm sad to say that some may have even experienced it on my campus, because I know the statistics about sexual assault on college campuses. It feels to me like a pretty basic best practice to put this in my recording.

At no time did I feel my speech was any less free. At no time did I feel like I am betraying my students by not exposing every one of them to this story. They do need to know there is a myth involving sexual assault that shapes mythography of the Roman Republic. They do not really need to know any details.

There are a lot of problems on a college campus these days. The greatest of them emerge from corporatization and the control the state legislators and governors seem to want to exert over curriculum and employment. But yeah, sometimes students make speech demands that I think might be counterproductive. I'm concerned about the tendency to try to stop controversial speakers from appearing on campuses, for example, even as I sympathize with not wanting to use student fees to pay for hatemongers.

But it strikes me that people who are angry about trigger warnings in the classroom have little idea how they are actually used to create an environment in which we can have the conversation matters – myths about the origins of Rome and their hatred of kings in my example – without needlessly traumatizing someone.

That's not a violation of free speech. It's just, I think, I hope, good teaching.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Disability and Race: Black Pain/White Pain

I've been meaning to blog this for awhile - the way that black pain and white pain get treated differently. Whites, who get more pain killers, get addicted. African-Americans, on the other hand, get fewer pain killers and so don't have the same addiction rates, but have more pain.
The experience of African-Americans, like Ms. Lewis, and other minorities illustrates a problem as persistent as it is complex: Minorities tend to receive less treatment for pain than whites, and suffer more disability as a result.
While an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse has swept across the United States, African-Americans and Hispanics have been affected at much lower rates than whites. Researchers say minority patients use fewer opioids, and they offer a thicket of possible explanations, including a lack of insurance coverage and a greater reluctance among minorities to take opioid painkillers even if they are prescribed. But the researchers have also found evidence of racial bias and stereotyping in recognizing and treating pain among minorities, particularly black patients.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

History: Ableism and Incarceration

Bitch Media Magazine has a good feature on disability and incarceration. Cheryl Green, the author, takes us through some of the history of de-institutionalization, then writes this excellent paragraph [my emphasis]:
As a culture, we never addressed the ableist biases that led us to want to lock up disabled people in the first place. The politics of who gets assigned the label of “disability” ties in to racism, homophobia, and sexism. Until the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a mental illness, and for many years, a crime. Many LGBT people were incarcerated in prisons and psych wards. Likewise, 19th century doctors had great confidence that the only reason an enslaved African or African-American might run away was because they were suffering from an alleged mental illness that they called “drapetomania.” And we all know the fabulous diagnosis of hysteria, something that can only happen to someone with a uterus. In early-20th-century thinking, someone’s uterus supposedly detached from its spot in the abdomen, navigated itself to the brain, and destroyed the person’s ability to think rationally.
Today, these biases still all work tragically in tandem. The practice of forced sterilization, once thought to be over, continues into the 21st century for incarcerated women with disabilities who are poor, mostly women of color. And just look at the reality of police violence: In recent years, we’re finally getting national media coverage on how Black and Latinx people are far more likely to be killed by police than white people. What’s hardly ever reported is police brutality against people with disabilities, even though estimates now find that between one-half and one-third of people killed by police have a disability.
That first line is a really good sentence, in particular, as a way to draw the connection between institutionalization and incarceration. Too often, the narrative suggests that in the 70s/80s a lot of people were in mental institutions, then they closed, those people went out into the communities, and over the last 30 years have been locked up. In fact, it's not that Joe and Jane Doe were institutionalized and released. It's that the same forces that pushed Joe and Jane into institutions now push George and Gina into prisons.

As always, read the whole article.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Disability Is Now Partisan - It doesn't have to be though.

Later today, Hillary Clinton will give a new piece about economic opportunity for people with disabilities. It's part of her broader pivot to positive policy speeches, rather than just attacking Trump all the time. Some folks will be live-tweeting under the hashtag #criponomics.

Clinton's campaign just released this ad, narrated in sign language by celebrity model Nyle DiMarco (accessibility is complicated - there's no sound on purpose, but now blind people can't hear the ad). The ad is explicitly cross-disability in focus.

David Graham has a new piece at The Atlantic on "How Disability Turned Partisan," that's worth a read. Graham writes:
You’d think none of that would be all that controversial. Disabilities strike across age groups, racial barriers, and partisan lines. In this election, even this is a polarized issue—though the roots of that split actually date back to before Donald Trump was a major political figure.
Disability politics used to be bipartisan. The Americans with Disabilities Act was primarily authored by Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat. It passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly—91-6 and 377–28, respectively, and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.... Eighteen years later, Bush’s son George W. Bush signed some expansions of the ADA into law.

Since then, however, things have sputtered. In 2012, the Senate failed to ratify a United Nations treaty called the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. Democrats supported the treaty, but Republicans were split. On the pro side were George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, the former Senate GOP leader and presidential candidate who was injured during World War II. On the con side were a bloc who warned on extremely dubious grounds that the treaty would allow the UN to meddle in U.S. courts. In the end, the treaty failed, despite Dole himself appearing on the Senate floor to lobby. It needed two-thirds of votes to pass, but was only able to garner 61.
Graham then turns to Trump's infamous mocking incident, "Crippled America," and more, before writing:
But Clinton’s focus on disability issues isn’t just a matter of electoral jockeying. It’s also in line with the direction of progressive politics as a whole. The Democratic Party has increasingly embraced the language and agenda of social justice. As my colleague Clare Foran noted back in March, Clinton herself has adopted the language of intersectionality, the idea that forms of discrimination, marginalization, and inequality should not be considered singly but as a complex, with different forms compounding one another.
At the presidential level, disability is partisan. It's less clear though at the states, where there are many GOP officials quite dedicated to disability rights, even as they are often limited in what they can do due to their party's insistence on austerity.

Maybe later I'll write a response - "Does disability have to stay partisan?"

My pieces on disability and the presidential race:

Speechless and Improvising Accessibility

Speechless is a new show featuring Micah Fowler, an actor with cerebral palsy, as JJ DiMeo, a character with cerebral palsy who is non-speaking. Instead, he uses a laser attached to his head to indicate letters on a board.

I wrote a review for The Atlantic, focusing on the authenticity of this method.
Silveri told me he was a little stuck in his early drafts, in which the DiMeo family functioned as an exact translation of his own. Initially, the “JJ” character used a typical Adapted and Assistive Communication (AAC) device, which allows a person to select icons and words from a screen and have them spoken aloud in a flat, computer-generated voice. Then Silveri met Eva Sweeney. Sweeney is a woman with cerebral palsy who invented her own method of communication as a teenager rather than rely on typical AAC. “As a kid I used to point with my left hand on my letter board,” she told me. “But that was super slow and tiring. So at 16, I asked my mom to Velcro a laser pointer to a cap, and I’ve been using it since.” Sweeney, now a paid consultant on the show, says she finds it to be much more efficient and interactive than high-tech AAC devices, and it encourages people she’s talking with to stay engaged with the conversation.

Silveri was blown away. “I saw [Eva] interacting with her aide. They had this great intense chemistry, anticipating each other and playing off each other.” After the meeting, Scott re-wrote the whole show. People familiar with AAC may find the technique weird, but in the context of comedy it works beautifully to keep the dialogue moving. Better still, Kenneth adds so much to the show: He is, at once, JJ’s voice and his own character.
The disability community improvises. It has to, because the world isn't accessible, and we should do better. But let's also celebrate the creativity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Keith Lamont Harris - Disabled Black Man Killed in Charlotte

Developing story. Ongoing protests. More tomorrow.

Intersectional Justice: Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi's Post on White Voters and Disability

One of the hallmarks of this blog, at least as I envisioned, is to be unfailingly critical even when that's uncomfortable. I'm willing to point to problems and disability representation in works of journalism, literature, and art, even from people whose work I admire. I try to be equally critical of my own conduct, and listen when I make mistakes – as I invariably do. That is the only way for our movement to get stronger.

I am writing this post because Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and CEO of RespectAbility, a disability rights and advocacy organization - and someone who was first a source and then an employer of mine - posted a racially biased statement on her private Facebook today. The post was set to public and I was alerted to it by a number of people.

Here are the screenshots.

The post shows a picture of George H. W. Bush and links to a news story of him saying he will vote for Clinton. Mizrahi wrote:

If Hillary wins it will because of white voters who care about people with disabilities. BTW, this is NOT a partisan thing. The same is true of Republican Sen. Richard Burr in NC who is running as the pro-PwDs candidate there.. THE POWER OF VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES WILL DETERMINE THE OUTCOME OF THE 2016 ELECTION! Remember that George H.W. Bush signed the ADA!

In the thread, when reminded that "black voters care about people with disabilities as well," Mizrahi wrote:

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi Of course but they were already voting for Hillary for other reasons.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi In politics there are wedge issues. for communities of color there is a long list of reasons voters will overwhelmingly vote for Hillary. For white voters, polls show that they are leaning for Trump. So what would make sub groups of them do something different than Trump? Bloomberg poll has disability as the top reason. So it's a real difference.


The post is now down. Lauren Appelbaum, communications director of RespectAbility, posted that the comments of any individual do not represent the organization, but that she is more than willing to discuss the views of RespectAbility.

Last May, I worked for RespectAbility in helping to edit a memo that Mizrahi wrote to the White House into a publishable form. I worked for a few days making the early draft, then took a more passive role from the project and changed my byline to "edited by," as the document evolved. Before that, I interviewed Mizrahi as a source last Fall, wrote about the RespectAbility Fellows in January, and was sent by RespectAbility to write and learn about disability at the New Hampshire primary. I believe that their work during the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries was outstanding, including their candidate questionnaires which pushed people to go on the record on disability issues. I stand by my assessment that the organization is filled with people working tirelessly for disability rights and am proud of the reporting I've done on them. 

But I reject this post by Mizrahi. It is racist. It is wrong. And it doesn't matter whether the racism was intentional or unintentional. It is ethically wrong. It is also factually wrong. The Obama Coalition (which proved just fine at electing presidents) depends on motivating large numbers of non-white voters to go to the polls. Yes, there are conservative well-off white voters who do not care about Trump's racism, hatred of Islam, terrible economic plans, lack of experience, history of predatory business practices, sexism, or other flaws...but do care about disability. They may be people who will shift to Clinton. Every vote counts.

But surely if Clinton wins, it will be because both Trump's hatemongering and Clinton's experience and policies motivate the whole Obama coalition - which is led by nonwhite voters - to turn out and even expand. A landslide would be a sign that moderate conservatives reject Trump. A victory will be people of color saving America from a would-be tyrant. To erase them is both wrong and biased.

I am sure that in the coming days, plenty of disabled people of color will be writing about this. As that happens, I will be sharing their work. I do not wish to speak for anyone but me, and be as clear as possible in my rejection of this kind of statement. I have also reached out to RespectAbility, formally, for comment. 

What's next?

RespectAbility has become important. It's connected to many of the movers and shakers in D.C., the corporate world, and the big non-profits. That's even moreso true now that it was named in a letter from the CEO of the Ford Foundation as a reason that they are going to be increasingly focused on disability justice. I have always had great interactions with Mizrahi and her team, which is why it's so important to me to write this post. I've tried to address some related concerns over email, but now it's time to respond to the public Facebook post with this comment of my own.

Our disability rights movement must address intersectional issues of justice - including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and more - or it will fail. That intersectional frame needs to be built into the foundations of our organizations, our fundraising, our advocacy, our writing, and everything else we do. 

RespectAbility is going to have to prove itself, now. I wish them the best of luck. Start with listening to the people she has just erased. 

ATF Sting Nets Disabled Man; Breaks 1973 Law

Here's a new slice of a familiar story: Disabled individual entrapped by law enforcement, probably illegally. The ATF claims they never noticed the individual was disabled or assumed he was high. 

Notice the Milwaukee case is just one of many (and I recommend looking past the sub-optimal disability language from the reporter):
Chauncey Wright was looking for a job and some friends.
The man, who suffered brain damage as a child, thought he had found both in an odd store on a quiet street in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood in 2012. But he became ensnared in a federal undercover gun-buying sting and ended up being charged and convicted himself.
The same thing happened in Wichita, Kan.; Portland, Ore.; a couple of places in Florida; and possibly elsewhere.
Undercover federal agents — in these cases, with the ATF — argued they didn’t realize the men, some whose IQs were in the mid-50s, had disabilities. Some agents would later tell investigators they just assumed the guys were high on drugs. Others said they detected nothing unusual about the men.
Knowingly or not, it turns out it was not just agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who were not adhering to federal laws that protect people with disabilities from discrimination.
The law is the 1973 Rehab act, one of the two or three most important pieces of disability rights legislation in US History, though it required mass protests around the country to get it enforced.

Lots of good reporting, if infuriating, in the piece. Here's Susan Mizner, for example, an ACLU attorney I've interviewed:
“I found it appalling that they had no idea they were working with people who had intellectual disabilities,” said Susan Mizner, disability counsel for the nationalAmerican Civil Liberties Union.
“The fact that our federal government is going into poor neighborhoods of color and not expecting to see disabilities and not trained to know how a disability can manifest itself, is an incredible lack of homework,” she said.
I don't actually have a section on entrapments and interrogations in my book draft, but I'm going to have to engage with this kind of thing as I revise.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Trump Goes (More) Ableist

It strikes me that when Trump needs to criticize white people, he likes to quickly resort on ableism (as opposed to racism, and plus sexism when useful). Here's his comment on Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense and recent critic of Trump:
Donald Trump launched a series of fierce attacks against former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Saturday.
"He's a nasty guy. Probably has a problem that we don't know about," Trump said at a rally in an airplane hangar here.
I see that "problem we don't know about" as suggesting that his "nastiness" is related to some kind of mental condition.

This isn't, in the grand scheme of Trump insultapalooza, a big deal. I just like to track this stuff. And as a friend pointed out, Gates' "beyond repair" could also be read as an ableist attack. Follow the "pathologizing Trump" tag for more on that.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

School to Prison and Disability: Black Hard of Hearing 7 Year Old Was Crying about being Bullied. Cops Handcuffed Him

The story of Kaylb Primm got a lot of attention last week. It's yet another story of a non-white child being handcuffed (I've written about such cases  regularly. See below for links) in school for behavioral reasons. The MO ACLU is suing. Rebecca Klein, from Huffington Post, wrote a widely shared story.
Kaylb Wiley Primm was in second grade in Kansas City when he started crying in class because he was being bullied. Within minutes, the child found himself in handcuffs. Two years later, his life is just getting back to normal.
The incident began when a school-based police officer happened to walk by Kaylb’s classroom and hear him crying and disrupting other students, according to a lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Kaylb’s family. When Kaylb continued to cry and yell in the hallway, against the officer’s requests, the officer put the child in handcuffs and brought him to the main office, where he sat until a parent arrived.
Klein didn't mention it, but I thought - we're going to find out he's got a disability.

A lawyer friend, this morning, sent me the complaint, and sure enough:
15. At the time of the incident giving rise to this complaint, Plaintiff was seven years old and was finishing his second-grade year at George Melcher Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, which is part of the KCPS system.
16. Plaintiff has a hearing impairment in one ear and was bullied and taunted by classmates from time to time. 
In other words, the disability aspect of this incident was directly causal, perhaps in more way than one. First, the bullying emerged from ableism. Second, it's not improbable that the officer shouting at the boy (which caused him to cry more, which then led to more shouting, grabbing painfully, and then the handcuffing) was not an effective means to communicate with a distraught boy who is hard of hearing. 

Not all the media coverage even mentions Primm's disability, which troubles me. I don't see any coverage that actually cites the disability issues and the high rate of such encounters for disabled non-white children  in particular. I don't see any coverage that talks to people from the Deaf/HoH community or other experts in disability discrimination in schools. We can't erase the disability component of Primm's identity from this story, or any story.

My published writing on the abuse of disabled children by law enforcement in schools.
And recent blog posts on this manifestation of the Cult of Compliance

Friday, September 16, 2016

Remembering the Sagamihara 19 - A Continuing Struggle (CN: Violence)

Last July, I published on the silence around the Sagamihara 19, troubled that the Anglophone press was largely ignoring the attack. It's the worst targeted killing of disabled people by an individual in modern history, comparable to acts of wartime genocide by the Nazis, in Rwanda, and Bosnia (and elsewhere). I wrote, among other things:
The international media has largely let the story go. Both Vox and the Wall Street Journal ran pieces on the rarity of mass violence in Japan, focusing largely on what that rarity might say about the American debate around access to firearms. Otherwise, the news cycles have shifted back to the U.S. presidential race, international terrorism, police violence, and the other usual things. News sites such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Salon, Slate, Time, and Newsweek either ran very short notices when the attack happened or published nothing on Sagamihara. None have published follow-ups. The New York Times ran five stories in the first two days, but has not yet published any in-depth reporting on disability in Japan that might take advantage of the resources of the paper of record to contextualize the loss of life. A singularly historic and tragic event like this deserves more attention from the world.
I'm pleased to say that the New York Times, with a new bureau editor in Tokyo, has now written a long and excellent piece about the victims and the silences. To be clear, I am in no way taking credit for this (I don't want you all to think I'm claiming that I somehow pressured the paper; they don't read me), just that I'm pleased and I think it's very good. The NYT, like few other outlets in the world, has the resources to tell stories that others can't. This one focuses on the silences within Japanese culture.

Motoko Rich, the author, interviewed disability rights advocates and met with survivors of the attack and their families:
ZAMA, Japan — A vicious knife attack killed his roommate at a facility for the developmentally disabled in July, but Kazuya Ono does not know that.
Mr. Ono, 43, survived slashes to his throat and stomach by the attacker, a former caregiver at the group home, and remains in a hospital nearby.
When he is agitated, he scratches himself so vigorously that he leaves marks on his face and arms. He shouts “blood, blood, blood!” at his nurses. He refuses to eat the hospital food, so his parents, Takashi and Chikiko Ono, bring Kazuya’s favorite curry and grapes for lunch.
The Onos, who live here in Zama, a suburb of Yokohama, want the world to know more about their cherished son, who is autistic and has the mental capacity of a toddler. He is one of 26 survivors of the knife attacks that left 19 dead in Sagamihara, a mountain town outside Tokyo. The assailant reportedly told the police that he wanted to “eliminate the disabled from the world.”
He may have accomplished that in more ways than he intended. The victims of the worst mass killing in Japan since World War II have also been eliminated from the public imagination. People do not even know their names, let alone the details of their lives.
The police in Kanagawa Prefecture have declined to release the identities of the victims, citing the families’ desire for privacy, in a decision that is increasingly drawing criticism around Japan.
Advocates for disabled people say withholding the names is consistent with a culture that considers them lesser beings. Keeping the victims hidden, even after their deaths, these advocates say, tacitly endorses the views of those — including the assailant — who say disabled people should be kept separate from the rest of society.
Erasing the victims serves the killer's agenda. Erasing the victims victimizes them again. This is not about respect, but shame.

The key is the Japanese voices are objecting. That's where change will come from, not from me, a writer in Chicagoland. 

So glad to see this piece. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Accessibility and Live Music

From my friend @TheMedievalDrK comes this piece on accessibility in the live music industry, with a UK org trying to make a difference. The author, Munisha Lall, writes:
The festival turned out to be a fantastic weekend in spite of my visual impairment. Really simple things, like the absence of stairs and obstacles, helped with the feeling that I’m not too different to the couple of hundred others crowded around a stage. Plus, the variety of stage sizes helped too. This kind of change in the make-up and composition of festivals – different stage sizes and atmospheres – makes the experience so much more diverse and diversity-friendly.
Fortunately, change is happening continually. Attitude Is Everything, an organisation that works with many festivals including Reading and Leeds, improves disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with venues, audiences, artists and the music industry. The presence of such organisations, and the profile they raise, not only addresses the barriers people such as myself face in the music festival environment, but also encourages the general public to question our assumptions regarding disability.
Any US orgs doing this?

For more, read about Annie Zaleski at SXSW and this piece by her for Salon. Zaleski, who has Cerebral Palsy, writes:
Several years ago, I attended an outdoor music festival with a friend. I have a physical disability, cerebral palsy, that makes it difficult for me to walk long distances, and so we pulled up near the entrance to ask a parking attendant where the handicapped parking was located. Nowhere, we were told: There were no spots. Seeing as we were stopped near several rows of vehicles, we asked if we could just park there, as it was close to the front gate. That wasn’t an option, either: We could, but we ran the risk of being towed–and considering the festival was in an out-of-the-way location, in a state in which neither of us lived, that didn’t seem like a good option either. Luckily, because I’m a journalist, I had a contact at the festival that I could call. This person proceeded to find us, chew out the parking attendant for not allocating spots for handicapped parking–which was illegal, he was reminded–and led us to an area that was safe and close enough for me to get in and out with no problems.

While this was an extreme case of discrimination, it wasn’t the only time my disability unexpectedly became an issue when I was going to see live music. There was the parking lot attendant at another venue who asked me and my husband, “Do you need to use the spot?” when we asked about parking in the handicapped space we knew was near a door. (Um, why else would we be asking to park there?) Another time at an old theater, an employee looked skeptically at me when I asked to use an elevator to get up to the top level where my seats were, as if I didn’t necessarily need to. (Again, why else would I be asking?) And while attending SXSW some years ago, I had a bar actually tell my group we had to vacate the table and chairs at which we were sitting, as they had to be removed for the late-night shows that were scheduled to begin–which would’ve been fine had there been other chairs in the venue, but there weren’t. (Needless to say, we left and went elsewhere.) And these are just a few of the things I’ve experienced, as someone who’s been an avid concert-goer for nearly two decades.
I'm a musician. I want my art accessible. Meanwhile, my son is not great at responding to intensely crowded spaces, but his love of music - especially high energy music (Flogging Molly, Pogues, Hamilton, lately) - is one of his defining personality traits. I want to know we'll have pathways for him to access music as he ages.

I dream of getting him to see Flogging Molly, for example. In the morning, when he's not listening to Hamilton, he turns on Drunken Lullaby, Devil's Dance Floor, or Revolution (his three favorite songs), and pumps his first to shout, "Rock and Roll." But I'm not sure how we get from desire to reality.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trauma in the Neighborhoods: The Solution Isn't Police Training

The US Department of Health and Human Services has given Chicago 1 million dollars to address "trauma" in its neighborhoods.

But it seems like most of the money will go to training cops. The grant will:
* Establish a Chicago ReCAST (Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma), Institute to design and deliver trauma-informed training to staff from City agencies and partners organizations as well as residents, building greater capacity in neighborhoods most impacted by violence on how to identify, respond and support recovery from to various forms of trauma.
* Expand the Chicago Police Department's Crisis Intervention Team training, mental health awareness training for Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) call takers and dispatchers, a public awareness campaign to reduce mental health stigma and public awareness of CIT and other resources. As a result, more than 12,000 Chicago police officers and all OEMC 911 call takers and dispatchers will receive basic mental health and trauma training.
* Support, train and link leaders from communities most vulnerable to civil unrest to ensure local involvement and feedback in citywide transformation efforts.
* Implement, launch and promote Chicago Connects, a comprehensive resource directory, crisis text line and web application to improve community organizations' and residents' access to necessary services.
It may be that the ReCAST Institute and training community leaders will do good work, and CIT Team Training is fine if its accompanied with system-wide cultural change. But this is also affirming that law enforcement is the appropriate place to center mental health crisis response. In the long term, we need to do something else.

I believe that budgets control agendas. When we put money tangling up these different things, we build institutional structures that are very, very, hard to change in the future. Moreover, I just wonder where's the investment in mental health centers, which, you'll recall, Rahm Emmanuel closed years ago. I wonder how much of the million dollars is going to police training and how much to community.

I spoke to Leroy Moore - one of the absolutely most important leaders on this issue - recently about CIT Training and he said to me, "Training has been around since 1989 with the Memphis plan … it’s the same story, it’s increased. What I say, and many other people say, we have to switch the focus from police to community. Switching that money to community service, to health service, to alternative phone number [to 911 for mental health calls]."

Again, CIT is fine, but it's the medical model to solving a problem related to disability.

We need social model solutions.

Expect tens of thousands more words on that to come (i.e. my book and many future pieces).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sports and Disability - The Paralympics!

The Paralympics are well underway now in Rio. I wrote a piece in Rolling Stone about sports, disability, visibility, and activism. Please read it!

As I did the research for the piece, it became quickly clear that I needed to talk not just about the spectacle and scandal, but about sports.

I spent a long time talking over Facebook messenger with Sam de Leve, an athlete but not a paralympian thanks to their complicated classification system (who with what disabilities gets to compete against each other, i.e. people with Down syndrome are largely excluded entirely), and found them amazingly helpful. So read this long interview on Paralympics and representation with de Leve by Vilissa Thompson:
VT: As an athlete, what have you noticed about the diversity of disabled athletes in sports in general, and the Paralympics specifically?
SdL: I live in California, where no single ethnic or racial group forms a majority of the population, so a truly representative athlete population should be majority non-white. While that level of representation does seem to hold on some wheelchair basketball teams I’ve seen, it’s not the case in any other disability sport I’ve encountered at the regional level.
I’ve also noticed a clear class component in disability sport: it’s not only white, but white and middle to upper-middle class. Because of the barriers accessing disability sport, families with social capital are in a significantly better position to navigate those barriers, whether in terms of pushing schools to create access for young disabled athletes (Tatyana McFadden’s family famously had to sue to allow her to race alongside other runners), or in navigating the Byzantine grant system that enables access to equipment.
Finally, there is significant male-domination of many disability sports. Though swimming has fairly even representation, most of the other popular disability sports I’ve seen have a significant male skew, which is reflected in the grants issued by the CAF, 70% of which go to men. It’s possible that a higher percentage of CAF applicants are male, though data is not available on the demographics of the applicant pool.
Sport is important. Access to sport skews white and wealthy. That's a problem.

Monday, September 12, 2016

#CultOfCompliance: Off-Duty Chicago Cop Beats Disabled Teen for Trespassing

A lawsuit alleges the following (courtesy of the Chicago Tribune):
[Matthew] Jackson, a 21-year veteran of the force, became enraged after Nathaniel Taylor, 18, crossed onto his lawn on his way home from school, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday. Jackson beat the boy with his fists and shoved his service revolver into Taylor's mouth, causing multiple lacerations, according to the suit.
Taylor, who has an IQ of 44, was treated at Mount Sinai Hospital and then sent to Cook County Jail on charges of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, the lawsuit alleged. He spent a week behind bars before being placed on electronic monitoring, an experience that caused severe emotional trauma, according to the suit.
Note - Taylor, not Jackson, went to jail as a result of this. Taylor was charged with felonies when Jackson, according to the lawsuit, constructed an elaborate fight scene to justify his use of force.
According to the report, Taylor tried to flee, but Jackson caught up to him and a "struggle ensued," during which Taylor tried to grab Jackson's gun from the holster. As they wrestled for control of the gun, the weapon "made contact with (Taylor's) face and mouth area," the report stated.
Jackson also said he repeatedly yelled, "Chicago police! Stop resisting!" but Taylor continued to fight, according to the report. The officer was treated at a nearby hospital for minor scrapes.
"He went for my gun" and "Stop resisting" are, of course, real things that happen. They - and the word "erratic"- are also used as key phrases to conceal unlawful or merely improper escalation in the use of force. Parsing the differences among justified, unjustified but legal, and illegal, is the big challenge for reformers, since the officers all use the same language in their descriptions of events (as they are trained to do).

Criminal charges may follow. I'll be following the case as it moves forward.

Friday, September 9, 2016

"Restraining Bag" - What Can Happen When Law Enforcement Gets a Tool

The ACLU this morning is sharing a video of a black man asserting his rights, standing with his hands up, who is suddenly tased. He falls and hits his head. Likely, though not provably at this time, he was tased for talking back to the police (in their eyes. In my eyes "I know my rights" is a fundamentally American statement that must be respected). Here's the tweet, which you can follow to the upsetting video.
TASER (that's a brand name. CEW = Conducted Electrical Weapon is the type) are great tools for cops, allowing them to engage with dangerous situations without resorting to lethal force. They undoubtedly have saved the lives of many disabled people, for example, who might have been armed and threatening, but who the police managed to  hit with a CEW rather than shoot.

Too often, though, a new tool like this becomes used instead of replacing lethal force (let's call it the top of the force continuum, though likely my cop friends will correct my lingo!), it's used down the continuum. Where once an officer might have used a nightstick or physical restraint, they now use an ECW. This is likely sometimes a good thing too! Physical scuffles are dangerous for everyone. But the Cult of Compliance keeps pushing to use the tool more and more often, so that anyone just standing there but not being properly obedient gets tased. And then we have a problem.

I'm writing this because I've been thinking about the "restraining bag," as discussed in this fairly hyperbolic piece, about the NYPD's practice of putting people in certain forms of crisis into big duffel bags.
Earlier this year the New York Police Department (NYPD), an organization of some 34,000 uniformed officers and an annual budget surpassing $5 billion, introduced a new crime fighting device, the ‘restraining bag,’ or as it is sometimes affectionately called, ‘the burrito.’ It is essentially a full-body sized duffel bag that officers can stuff a perpetrator into and cart him off to jail like a piece of luggage.

Image: The torsos of two officers holding a blue and white striped back saying NYPD ESU.
Presumably, there's the body of a person inside, being "restrained"
The New York Times has followed up on the story.
In response to questions about the bags, the Police Department said it had used the restraints for 25 years. The department said only “highly trained members” of the Emergency Service Unit were authorized to use them. The person being restrained is assessed while being held and afterward, and is taken by an ambulance to a hospital for medical and psychological evaluation.
From Jan. 1 through April 20 of this year, the bag was used 122 times, the police said, or about once a day. During that same period, the department said, it received more than 44,000 emergency calls about emotionally disturbed people.
That's probably good. I'm glad to know about these bags so we can keep an eye on their use. I am sure there are plenty of difficult situations in which this bag is the right tool to wrap up a person and safely transport them to help. I'm also sure that, absent clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules, they will be mis-used.

I asked Lou Hayes, a a former SWAT supervisor, and current CIT detective in Chicagoland, who also trains police in use of force, about whether he thought the bag was useful. He told me:
Does it have it's purpose? Sure. Extremely limited use though. As with any piece of equipment, it has the possibility of being misused and overused in the wrong circumstances. Every problem looks like a nail to he with a hammer.
I still argue that team arrest/custody tactics are of way more use than any of the fancy equipment out there. (Keep in mind that I use "arrest/custody" loosely, which covers the non-criminal protective custody of violent or otherwise involuntary folks.)
What is the so-called best practices, with broad application and highly adaptable? Team handcuffing, with multi-string of cuffs, hobble restraint (think: a cross between a tie-down strap & a dog leash) around legs/ankles, then secured to a paramedic backboard with the multitude of straps (like seatbelt webbing) and the head blocks w/ forehead strap.
Is it too early to be discussing field-administered sedatives by paramedics?
A team of cops & paramedics that I trained in the above tactics saved a young man's life last week who was wigging out on flakka or bath salts or some other fierce street drug cocktail. The man was "packaged up" for hasty transport to ER where he was in a physical position to be easily treated by ER staff. The trick was the hasty and decisive escalation by the cops to put the naked young man (~20) into the best position to be medically treated for a metabolic emergency where his body temp was so high he was essentially cooking himself from the inside.

Would a restraint bag have helped? Maybe. But to what extent will there be a prolonged fight to get him into it? Then what sort of position is the person in to be treated at ER?
So the picture is terrifying. The use is limited. I fear that every time there's a non-compliant individual, especially someone who is disabled (which means the cops will be influenced by anti-disability stigma, and likely afraid), the impulse will become, "bag them."

Let's make sure that doesn't happen.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rape Culture and Disability

New piece today at Pacific Standard on Nicholas Fifield, rape culture, and disability
The details, though, reveal a number ways in which this assault embodies some of the most dangerous aspects of American rape culture: the lack of consequences for sexual predators and the repeated victimization and dehumanization of rape victims. First, Fifield turns out to be a high school tennis star in the Des Moines, Iowa, area. His dad is the team’s coach, and media coverage of the case has highlighted Fifield’s athletic prowess and shared glamour shots of him on a tennis court. He was suspended for just one game at the start of the season and seems poised to continue his sports career without further consequences. Second, the victim — whom I’ll refer to as Jane Doe — is disabled. So, even as the reporting humanizes Fifield by presenting a nuanced (sometimes generous) picture of the star athlete gone wrong, Doe has been dehumanized, reduced to a collection of diagnoses, and cast into a system primed to remove sexual autonomy from people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). Instead of teaching people with IDD about consent and working to create a safe community where they can live an integrated life, too many guardians and group homes instead seek to closet disabled victims or potential victims away from the rest of society, particularly when it comes to romance and a healthy sex life.
Denial of sexual autonomy and the prevalence of sexual assault is a huge issue in the intellectual and developmental disability community. They overlap in extremely complicated ways. Please read the whole thing! Obvious content notes apply.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Neurotypicals are Mindblind Too! (If anyone is)

"Mindblind" is the phrase coined by Simon Baron-Cohen to describe how autistic people view the world. The Wikipedia entry I think does a fair job of exploring the origins of the theory and the many, many, many critiques. For many autistic people, it in no way describes their lived reality, to which pro-mindblind folks reply, "Well, you're not like our children." 

"Mindblind" raises so many deep issues, not the least related to the idea that autistic people just don't get or don't feel emotion. It's othering and dehumanizing and has long been critiqued by both autistic and non-autistic writers and researchers. Here's a new approach.

A new article in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology (aside: I hate that name. Psychology, you have a lot to answer for!) turned the "mindblind" methodology on neurotypicals.
Basically, there are studies showing that some autistic people cannot accurately determine the emotions being felt by neurotypicals by watching them move. These researchers tested neurotypicals and found that they cannot determine the emotions being felt by autistic people by watching them move, either.

This is about diversity and the challenges to understanding each other across the neurodiversity spectrum. It's a real issue. It is NOT a deficit specific to autistic people.

VisualVox, one of my favorite new follows on Twitter, also wrote a blog post about the study in which they highlighted key parts of the abstract:
Therefore, “social impairments” exhibited by individuals with ASD may, at least in part, represent a failure by typical individuals to infer the correct mental states from the movements of those with ASD. To examine this possibility, individuals with ASD and typical adults manually directed 2 triangles to generate animations depicting mental state interactions. Kinematic analysis of the generated animations demonstrated that the participants with ASD moved atypically, specifically with increased jerk compared to the typical participants. In confirmation of our primary hypothesis, typical individuals were better able to identify the mental state portrayed in the animations produced by typical, relative to autistic, individuals.
Communication is complicated. We all have plenty of work to do.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Disability and Policing: Burley's Bad Knees

I forgot about this story and hadn't thought about it as a disability-related case until I clicked on this tweet.
Radley Balko writes about the case here. It's the consequence of a no-knock raid by masked officers in the house of people who had done nothing, they got terrified, and have long been trying to ID the officers who hurt them. They've never been allowed to do so. They still aren't being allowed to do so. Balko writes:
As for the rest of us, are we really ready to just be okay with the idea that masked, heavily armed agents of the government can break down a door, terrify two innocent women, leave without presenting a warrant, their names, their badge numbers or revealing their faces … and get away with it?
So that's the broad civil liberties takeaway. Here's the disability context. Caroline had just had back surgery. An officer put a boot in her back. Geraldine had just had knee surgery. An officer stepped on her knees.
When Caroline Burley, now 51, first heard the boom around 5:30 on the evening of June 13, [2007] it sounded like it had come from outside her bedroom window. She rushed to investigate, and as she came out of the room, a man with a gun confronted her, threw her into a wall and then hurled her to the floor. A SWAT team had burst through her front door. Wearing only her nightgown, she asked for mercy. She recently had back surgery, she explained. Instead, one officer, then another kept her close to the floor by putting a boot in her back, according to court filings...
Geraldine, now 70, pleaded with the man to let her move to the floor slowly, explaining to him that she’d had both of her knees replaced. Instead, another officer approached, grabbed her by the face, demanded that she “get the [f–––] on the floor,” then threw her into a table. She tumbled to the ground. At that point, she said later in a deposition, everything turned to “a fire, white and ringing in my ear.” Another officer came up from the basement with her grandson, stepping on her knees in the process. She cried out again in pain.
The #CultOfCompliance teaches that any deviation from absolute instant compliance merits escalation. "Get the fuck on the floor!" says the masked heavily armed officer to the old lady with new knees, as he threw her into a table. Then another officer stepped on her knees.

This happened without consequences for the unknown masked officers.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Zoos and Accessibility: The Omaha Splashpad

I follow zoos and accessibility issues because zoos are super important to Nico. Here's one from Omaha. It uses "handicapped" a lot (still so commonly in use) and is about a communication failure that gets resolved.
At least a few children with disabilities have been turned away from the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium’s new Alaskan Adventure splash pad this summer, told their wheelchairs and walking canes weren’t allowed.
As a result, the zoo has held an emergency staff meeting to correct the situation, which is being called a miscommunication between staff members.
Last month, Nicole Steng took her son, Titus, 8, who uses a wheelchair, to the zoo along with his sisters to play in the new splash pad, which opened in June. When they reached the front of the line, an employee told Steng her son couldn’t enter.

“There’s no wheels allowed,” she remembers the young staff member telling her. The splash pad’s ground cover isn’t durable enough to handle the wheels, the staffer said.
Her son could go on the outskirts of the splash pad, Steng was told, but couldn’t play in the water with his wheelchair. She asked to speak with a supervisor but was told the same thing.
“I said, ‘You’re discriminating, that’s what you’re doing,’ ” Steng said. “ ‘You’re telling me that my handicapped child is not allowed to play in a public facility that we are paying for. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intention.’ ”
Indeed it wasn’t, the zoo says.
I like "gets resolved" stories, esp with, as my friend who sent me this story pointed out, a phone number at the bottom in case discrimination happens again in this context.

Next: Is Omaha thinking about why this happened in the first place and how to make sure their zoo is accessible across the board, rather than just fixing this issue?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Disability and Policing: Leroy Duffie (double amputee, black) and the #CultOfCompliance

A double amputee (legs) not matching the description of a robbery suspect was told by police to get out of the car with his hands up. 8th Circuit Court has reversed a district court granting "qualified immunity" to the police in question.

I'm going to be referring to this case a lot as it embodies the dangers of the compliance-based policing to disabled civilians. Key summary:
  • The officer was looking for a young black man with braided hair. A van was involved.
  • The driver, Leroy Duffie, was in his 50s and bald. The officer couldn't see well though so decided he had probable cause to stop, "Based on the match of the driver's race and gender and the similarity of the van description."
  • The officer (and backup) were concerned the civilian had a firearm, so approached the van with their own weapons drawn and demanded the driver exit immediately.
The officers exited their vehicles with their sidearms drawn and remained shielded behind their opened doors. Officer Kaiser ordered the driver "to turn off the vehicle, place his hands in the air, open the door, and slowly step out of vehicle." The driver did not immediately comply. The officers began cautiously approaching the vehicle with their sidearms drawn toward the van, while continuing to shout commands for the driver to exit the vehicle. The driver explained his apparent noncompliance. He attempted to inform the officers that he was physically unable to exit his vehicle with his hands in the air. The officers responded by ordering him to put his head back in the vehicle and get out with his hands in the air. Eventually, the driver opened his door and turned his body to exit the vehicle but immediately fell face-first to the pavement.
I feel for Duffie, here, who must have been terrified he was about to be killed for noncompliance, even though he couldn't comply.
  • So far, it's problematic, but hard to legally fault the officers. They mis-ID'd the van, they forced the driver to humiliate himself and fall to the ground out of the vehicle or risk being shot. But at this point they discover instead of an abled teen with braids, it's a bald man in his 50s with two prosthetic legs. So what do they do? Handcuff him, search him, search the van, find no one else in the fan, but leave him face down on the pavement for five to ten minutes.
The driver, later identified as Duffie, is a double amputee with two prosthetic legs. He could not safely exit the vehicle in the manner that the officers commanded. The fall caused one of Duffie's prostheses to become detached. Duffie's prosthetic legs were ill-fitting due to weight loss from cancer treatments. Duffie remained on the ground for the remainder of the traffic stop. After finding no one else in the van, the officers handcuffed Duffie, still face down on the pavement, searched him for a weapon, and then removed the handcuffs after five to ten minutes at Duffie's request. The officers told Duffie that they stopped him because his vehicle matched the description of the van from the incident at the convenience store. By this point, the officers knew that Duffie did not match the description of the young man at the convenience store. Duffie was not a young man in a tank top with braids; at the time, he was a bald, 58 year-old double-amputee.
It's one thing for police to not expect the presence of disability - that's normal, if problematic. It's another thing for continuing to treat Duffie as a potential suspect even though there's no reasonable evidence that he was involved. The courts, as I read the decision, agreed.
 Darkness limited Officer Kaiser's vision; nonetheless, an objectively reasonable police officer would not mistake a 58-year-old bald man for a young adult with hair. Officers may not turn a blind eye to facts that undermine reasonable suspicion. 
Yes, the irony of the disability metaphor is not lost on me.

You can find the decision here.

Update: Leroy Moore, a major activist on policing and disability, sent me this link of local coverage, including a picture of Duffie.