Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Thursday, July 10, 2003
Year IV, Edition 110

This front page features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for the rest of today's news.

"Things are easier now, and they're going to get even easier."

--Brenda Cheramie, talking about the changes she has seen in her Louisiana town for wheelchairs users over the past few decades (Second story)

"For the first time, they were validated as people. Now I’m worried about the repercussions. (Korean society) will take away that feeling from them."
--Tammy Heber, organizer of the project that last month sent Korean athletes to the Special Olympics World Summer Games for the first time (Fifth story)



Donovan Jackson's Testimony Is Unreliable, Inglewood Cops' Defense Claim

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 10, 2003

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA--Donovan Jackson, 17, testified Thursday that he could not remember many details of his video-taped arrest one year ago --during which he was punched by police officers and slammed onto a patrol car -- in part because he passed out after one officer choked him.

Jackson was testifying in the case against fired Inglewood officer Jeremy Morse, who is charged with assault under color of authority, and suspended officer Bijan Darvish, who is charged with filing a false report of the incident. If convicted, Morse and Darvish could each face up to 3 years in prison.

On July 6, 2002, Jackson and his father, Coby Chavis, had pulled into a convenience store to gas up their car and so Jackson could get some snacks. When Jackson came out of the store two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were investigating Chavis' car because it had an expired registration.

Deputies claim that Jackson was told to stay back from the car, but instead lunged at one of them. The deputies arrested Jackson, handcuffed him, and then placed him in a squad car.

When Inglewood officers arrived on the scene, Jackson stood up. A deputy grabbed him by the neck and, according to Jackson's attorney, the Inglewood officers began beating the teenager.

A tourist in a nearby motel video-taped the officers punching Jackson, then picking him up and slamming him onto the patrol car. The scene was broadcast on national television, prompting comparisons between it and the 1991 video-taped police beating of Rodney King Jr. Like King, Jackson is African-American.

Attorneys representing Morse and Darvish said Jackson first attacked one officer and then grabbed another officer's groin while he was handcuffed. They tried to show that Jackson, who has a developmental disability, was an unreliable witness because he couldn't remember details of the incident and had told differing stories about whether he was unconscious when he fell to the ground.

(See Express Extra: "Video-Tape Captures Police Beating Hand-Cuffed Teen" from July 10, 2002 Inclusion Daily Express toward the bottom of this page)



Cheramie Notes Improvements In Accessibility, Attitudes

July 10, 2003

KENNER, LOUISIANA--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Thursday's Times-Picayune:

Many around Kenner may know Brenda Cheramie as the woman who, most days, can be seen traveling Williams Boulevard in her electric wheelchair walking a dog or going to a nearby store. She has become so familiar to retailers that Winn-Dixie employees at the store near 21st Street "Speedy," and the Eckerd drug store employees greet her as an old friend.

Cheramie, 53, was born with spina bifida and has used a wheelchair for most of her life. For the past 22 years, she has lived in her own apartment at Westminster Tower, a block off Williams Boulevard.

Cheramie remembered the first handicapped ramp that she and (her friend, Lou) Dodd ever saw in Jefferson Parish. It was in Gretna, at the parish jail. "I told Lou, 'They've finally listened to us, and now they're going to put us in jail!' " she joked.

"Things are easier now, and they're going to get even easier," she said. "The world now has changed so much."

Entire article:
"Living on her own: Disabled strive for more independence" (Times Picayune)



Massachusetts House Votes To Slow Fernald Closure

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 10, 2003

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS--The state House of Representatives on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to oppose Governor Mitt Romney's plan to close Fernald Development Center, the oldest publicly-funded institution housing people with developmental disabilities in the Western Hemisphere, in the next year. The measure now moves to the state Senate, where it may or may not be brought up for a vote, according to the Daily News Tribune.

In late February, Romney announced the 155-year-old facility would be shut down during the 2004 fiscal year and its 300 residents would either move to the state's five other facilities or to homes in the community, to bridge a $3 billion budget gap.

But leaders in the community surrounding the 200-acre Fernald campus joined parents of those housed at the facility to put pressure on lawmakers to override Romney's plan.

The legislature passed measures that would require a cost analysis before closing Fernald, keep the facility from closing before October 2004, and establish a committee to determine how the land should be used.

Romney vetoed those laws.

The House needed a two-thirds majority to override the governor's vetoes. On Wednesday, the House voted 139-13 in favor of overriding his veto on the cost analysis, and 128-22 in favor of overriding the veto on the land reuse committee.

The Senate has until the end of November to bring the measures to a vote. Local lawmakers want them brought earlier to the Senate floor, where they would also require a two-thirds majority to override Romney's vetoes.

Social reformer Samuel Gridley Howe founded the institution with a $2,500 appropriation from the state legislature in 1848. Originally called the "Massachusetts School for the Feeble Minded", the facility was renamed the Walter E. Fernald State School in 1925 after its first resident superintendent.

"These were facilities that were built in a time when they put people away," Mary Lou Maloney, legislative liaison for Arc Massachusetts told the Boston Globe earlier this year. "People with disabilities can live in the community."

Arc Massachusetts and other organizations have been pushing for the state's six facilities to be shuttered since 1990. Most of the institutions have not admitted new residents for more than 25 years because of court orders following complaints of overcrowding.



Korean Athletes "Temporary Champions"?

July 10, 2003

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA--Last month, thousands of athletes from around the world competed at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Dublin, Ireland.

It was the first time Korea sent a team to the international games.

The cover story in Friday's Korea Times is about those athletes, their achievements, and how they and other athletes were treated while in Ireland.

Many of those who organized the trip are worried that the old, "archaic" attitudes that Korean people have about its citizens with mental disabilities will return.

"For the first time, they were validated as people. Now I'm worried about the repercussions," said Tammy Heber, one of the trip's organizers. "(Korean society) will take away that feeling from them."

Entire article:
"Temporary Champions" (Korea Herald)



Article Brings Back Memories of "Flagpole Mom"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 10, 2003

WASHINGTON, PENNSYLVANIA--During my news search Thursday, I stumbled across a brief story about Kids' Cafe, a summer computer class for children with disabilities at Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living (TRIPIL).

What caught my eye was the name of a peer advocate and technology specialist at TRIPIL, Deanna "Dee" Lesneski.

Early readers of Inclusion Daily Express may recognize Lesneski who was affectionately dubbed "Flagpole Mom" in September 2000. Lesneski sat vigil for nearly a month while strapped to a lawnchair tied to a flagpole outside her local school, until district officials agreed to provide an appropriate education for her son, Max.

For new readers, her story is a wonderful example of how one person can make a difference.

Related article:
"Disabled develop taste for computers at 'cafe'" (Observer-Reporter)
Related resource:
"'Flag Pole Mom' Deanna Lesneski Protests For Weeks To Get Appropriate Education For Son" (Inclusion Daily Express)



Program on Employment and Disability

The Program on Employment and Disability (PED), housed within the Industrial and Labor Relations School (ILR) at Cornell University, conducts research and provides continuing education and technical assistance on many aspects of disability in the workplace. Since 1968, we have worked throughout the United States and abroad to help companies, labor organizations, government agencies, schools, and communities accommodate and integrate individuals with disabilities. We also interact with policy makers, disability advocates, and rehabilitation program professionals.

PED contributes to the development of inclusive workplace systems and communities in a variety of ways. We engage in research and produce scholarly articles, develop training materials and conduct training sessions domestically and internationally, and offer technical assistance on a wide array of disability-related matters. Our expertise embraces legal mandates and operational issues, an all-encompassing perspective that enables us to facilitate the transformation of public policy into constructive practices.



From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (One year ago)


Video-Tape Captures Police Beating Hand-Cuffed Teen

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 10, 2002

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA--Last Saturday, a tourist video-taped an Inglewood Police officer slamming 16-year-old Donovan Jackson down onto a police car and then punching him in the face -- while he was handcuffed.

Police Officer Jeremy Morse was suspended on administrative leave while the police department, district attorney and mayor's office investigate the incident. Some are comparing the incident to the 1991 video-taped beating of Rodney King Jr, because Jackson, who is black, was beaten by Morse, who is white.

"It was wrong," said Jackson, who reportedly has a developmental disability and is a special education student, at his attorney's office Monday.

According to the Associated Press, the video was recorded from a motel across the street from the gas station where the incident took place. It shows Jackson being pulled to his feet by Morse, then slammed onto the trunk of the police car. The tape also shows Morse putting a hand on the back of Jackson's neck, slugging him with his other hand and then trying to choke him.

Two other officers intervened, with at least one attempting to pull Morse away from Jackson.

It is not yet known what happened before the tourist began video-taping.

According to Jackson's attorney, Joe Hopkins, the teenager and his father, Coby Chavis, had pulled into the convenience store to gas up their car and so Jackson could get some potato chips. When Jackson came out of the store two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were investigating Chavis' car which had an expired registration.

Jackson asked what the deputies were doing, and was told to stay back from the car.

A police spokesperson said Jackson then lunged at one of the deputies. Jackson was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the squad car.

When Inglewood officers arrived on the scene, Jackson stood up. A deputy grabbed him by the neck and the city officers began beating Jackson, Hopkins said.

Hopkins said Jackson had worn a heavy chain around his neck and that the officers dragged him by it until it broke.


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