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

Friday, February 6, 2004
Year V, Edition 873

Today's 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 32 more news items.

"Disney needs to have people with more knowledge of what the disabilities are and not look down their nose at a child and say, 'You don't look disabled to me'."

--Crystal Fernando, whose son has autism, commenting on new Disneyland policies regarding "special assistance passes" (Second story)



Assault Charges Dropped Against Officer Morse In Donovan Jackson Arrest

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 6, 2004

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA--Prosecutors have decided to drop charges against former Inglewood police officer Jeremy Morse -- who was accused of assaulting a teenager with developmental disabilities -- now that a second trial has ended in a hung jury.

The jury last week could not resolve a 6-6 deadlock. Morse's first trial last July also ended in a hung jury, with 7 jurors voting for conviction.

"I'm convinced that the chances of reaching a unanimous decision either way is virtually nil," said Superior Court Judge William Hollingsworth Jr as he dismissed the case Friday.

Morse was accused of using excessive and unnecessary force when he and Officer Bijan Darvish arrested Donovan Jackson on July 6, 2002. Jackson was being arrested for attacking the officers outside a convenience store after he had been asked to sit in a squad car while his father was issued a ticket for expired license tabs.

A videotape of the arrest, showing officer Morse slamming the hand-cuffed 16-year-old onto the back of a patrol car and repeatedly punching him in the face, was broadcast on television news stations around the world.

Morse was fired from the Inglewood Police Department and charged with assault. Darvish was suspended and charged with filing a false police report.

Jackson, now 18, testified in the second trial that he was sitting in the squad car, but got scared and stood up when he saw several officers running toward him. His family said the teenager may have responded slowly to officers' orders because of his disability.

Jackson also testified that the officers beat him, struck him with a flashlight and choked him until he passed out. He said he did not try to scratch, hit or kick any of the officers.

Defense attorney John Barnett pointed out several inconsistencies between Jackson's statements to a grand jury and his testimony during the trials.

The videotaped scene reminded many of the well-known 1991 police beating of Rodney King Jr. Four officers accused in King's videotaped beating were later acquitted, sparking violent riots in Los Angeles.

Morse, who is white, could have been sentenced to three years in prison if he had been convicted of assaulting Jackson, who is black.

"Donovan Jackson's Arrest" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Disneyland Cracks Down On Illegitimate Use Of Special Passes

February 6, 2004

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA--Disneyland is changing its policy regarding who can go to the front of the line at attractions based on disability, the Orange County Register reported Thursday.

Instead of simply issuing a "special assistance pass" for those who request it, the theme park will ask more questions and toughen up their eligibility requirements. Disney employees will issue passes based on individual needs, rather than on specific disabilities.

The new guidelines, which were developed with input from disability groups and the U.S. Department of Justice, go into effect on March 1.

Disney officials say the policy had to be changed because the passes were abused too often by people who did not have a disability.

Some are applauding the decision, noting that those legitimately entitled to the passes often had to stand in line 40 minutes while waiting for people who obviously did not need the accommodation.

"The fact that they're making it harder to get help only means that the people it was designed for in the first place are going to use it," said John Kennerknecht, whose son has cerebral palsy.

Visitors without obvious disabilities, however, said they are upset with the new rules.

"They've completely ignored my class of disability," explained Angela Valles, who said she does not usually need a wheelchair, but can't stand for long periods because of multiple sclerosis.

Disney officials said a specific written policy will not be issued because it could open loopholes that might be exploited.

Entire article:
"Disney theme parks want able-bodied back in line" (Orange County Register via South Mississippi Sun Herald)



Justice Department Pats Self On Back For Pizza Restaurant Settlement, And More

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 6, 2004

DOWNINGTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA--The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a statement Friday that it had settled an accessibility complaint against Primavera Pizza Kitchen, a restaurant in this small town east of Philadelphia.

A paralyzed veterans group filed the original complaint because two areas of the restaurant were constructed at a level above the main dining floor without providing access to customers with disabilities. The group claimed that the restaurant violated state accessibility law, along with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act because it was built 10 years after the federal law was passed. The owner had received a state waiver, the statement read, but that did not resolve the business's obligations under the ADA.

Under the settlement, the owner has agreed to make both raised areas fully accessible. There was no mention of monetary damages or penalties in the Justice Department statement.

The statement went on to applaud the agency for its "continued efforts under President George W. Bush's New Freedom Initiative," noting that since the initiative was announced three years ago, its Civil Rights Division has resolved 354 disability discrimination complaints through informal means, as well as 131 through formal settlement agreements. The statement went on to say the department has entered 13 consent decrees and successfully resolved over 500 complaints through mediation.

"Compliance with the ADA is good business," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "Small businesses are often simply unaware of their obligations. To the extent that we can help educate them, streamline the regulatory process, and achieve voluntary compliance, both the business and disability communities will benefit."

The statement made no mention of the fact that businesses and builders have had 14 years to learn about the ADA, or that the Bush administration has filed briefs opposing the ADA in Supreme Court cases and has tried to appoint to federal judgeships people who have opposed the federal civil rights law.



Locals Oppose Teen Boarding School

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 6, 2004

COEUR d'ALENE, IDAHO--More than 100 people showed up at a public hearing Thursday to oppose a proposed boarding school on rural tribal land, the Coeur d'Alene Press reported.

Dr. George Ullrich, co-medical director at North Idaho Behavioral Health, and his partner in the proposal, school psychologist Gary Stanton, said the plan calls for the school to serve 65 teenagers "struggling with learning disabilities and education deficiencies".

Most of those speaking out against the proposal cited concerns about neighborhood safety, pollution, and how the 60-acre facility might encroach on the area's rural lifestyle. Many had compared the facility to a prison.

"I understand the fears that come up," Ullrich said. "We've come to learn there are very few 40-acre-plus areas that would serve well for the school and have the accessibility and the environment for this holistic program. We have no intention of placing students in this school who should be in locked, or more secure, providers of care."

During the last two weeks, The Kootenai County Building and Planning Department received 65 letters of opposition from the public, along with a number of letters of concern from the Kootenai County Sheriff, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and the county's Solid Waste Department.

The hearing examiner will submit his report to the county's Building and Planning Department within the next two weeks.

Related article:
"Boarding school foes speak out" (Coeur d'Alene Press)



"Terri Schiavo Family Alarmed by Stark Admission From Michael's Attorney"

February 6, 2004

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA--The following six paragraphs are excerpts from an editorial in Friday's, in response to a separate editorial in Friday's Lakeland Ledger:

In a statement on Friday, the family of Terri Schiavo says it is concerned about a statement that appears in a Florida newspaper's editorial. George Felos, the assisted suicide advocate who is the attorney for Terri's estranged husband Michael, is quoted as admitting that "tens of thousands" of disabled persons like Terri have faced death over the years.

The editorial in the Lakeland Herald newspaper argues that the Schindlers are intruding into the privacy rights of Terri and Michael by attempting to save their daughter's life. Felos is quoted saying the Florida legislature has no right to intervene in the case and help Terri.

The admission that perhaps "tens of thousands" of people over the years have faced death in the same way as Terri has her family alarmed.

"People should be very frightened of how matter-of-factly Mr. Felos’ assertion is," Terri's brother Bobby Schindler, Jr., said in response. "He openly admits that we are once again killing the those deemed less worthy."

Felos has always been known to be an advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Detractors say Felos has become the next Geoffrey Feiger, the defender of the notorious death doctor Jack Kevorkian, because he has taken on 10 cases similar to Terri's in the last decade.

Entire editorials:
"Terri Schiavo Family Alarmed by Stark Admission From Michael's Attorney" (
"Lawmakers Intrude Into Family Privacy" (Lakeland Ledger)



Job Accommodation Network

Welcome to JAN, a free consulting service that provides information about job accommodations, the ADA, and the employability of people with disabilities.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives -- Two years ago:


Advocates Want Institution Dead To Be Honored

February 8, 2002

NAPA, CALIFORNIA--Between 20,000 and 25,000 Californians have been buried anonymously on the grounds of state institutions.

More than 4,000 of those lie in unmarked graves behind Napa State Hospital.

A movement headed by mental health consumers is trying to correct cemetery neglect at California's 16 state mental hospitals and institutions housing people with developmental disabilities.

State Senator Wes Chesbro is leading an effort to have an official count of how many people are buried in institutions along with some sort of memorial.

"Napa State's dead lie unmarked" (Napa Valley Register)
Historic photos of Napa State Hospital (Historic Asylums)


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