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.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Year V, Edition 971

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the "Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 27 more news items.

"Surprisingly enough, there are some perks to being in a wheelchair. They aren't many, but they are pretty good."

--Charlotte Observer community columnist Laura Stinson, who uses a wheelchair (Fifth story)

"We kept the Lantern open as long as we could. But despite a massive effort by everyone, we just couldn't do it."
-- Graham Ball, chief executive of Britain's Polio Fellowship, talking about a hotel that specialized in serving travelers with disabilities. The Lantern and another specialized hotel are closing because regular hotels have become more accessible and accommodating (Fourth story)



Another Denver Resident With Disabilities Dies In Police Shooting
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 14, 2004

DENVER, COLORADO--For the second time in just over a year, a Denver resident with disabilities has died from shots fired by a police officer.

Sunday night, Denver Police Officer Ranjan Ford Jr. shot and killed 63-year-old Frank Lobato, who was sitting in bed drinking a soda pop.

According to reports from the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, Lobato used crutches to get around because of "very limited mobility", and was using medication for an unspecified mental disability. He was scheduled to undergo treatment for heroin addiction at the time of his death.

Police received a telephone call from Cathy Sandoval, the wife of Lobato's nephew, Vincent Martinez, around 6:45 p.m.. Sandoval told police that Martinez had been beating her and holding her against her will for most of the day. She explained that she would be waiting at a nearby restaurant, and that Martinez and his uncle, Lobato, were still inside the second-story apartment.

Officers arrived at the scene and used a latter to enter a second-story bedroom window. Officer Ford apparently startled Mr. Lobato, who made a quick motion that the officer believed was an attempt to use a weapon. After the officer shot Lobato in the chest, he found that the "weapon" was the can of soda.

Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman and District Attorney Bill Ritter held a news conference on Monday to get the facts, as they knew them, out to the public.

"It has now been determined that the party who was shot was not armed at the time of the shooting," Whitman read from a prepared statement. "The officer stated that after he fired the shot, he heard an object fall to the floor on the other side of the bed. A beverage can was recovered from the floor in the area of the bedroom."

Ritter promised a full investigation to determine whether Ford broke any laws when he shot Lobato.

The incident took place a few days after the City paid a $1.325 million settlement to the mother of Paul Childs, a 15-year-old with mental retardation and epilepsy. Childs was shot and killed by Denver Police Officer James Turney on July 5, 2003, when he failed to drop a kitchen knife he was clutching to his own chest. Turney was cleared of criminal charges, but was suspended for 10 months without pay for violating the department's use-of-force policy.

Two years ago, Turney shot and killed Gregory Smith, a deaf 18-year-old who failed to follow instructions to drop a pocket knife. Turney was not charged with a crime or disciplined for Smith's death.

In the wake of the Childs shooting and the pre-trial court settlement, Mayor John Hickenlooper announced, among other things, broad changes in the department's use-of-force policy, increased public oversight of shooting incidents, and increased training in crisis intervention.

On Tuesday, a group of about two dozen protesters showed up at Hickenlooper's office to demand he fire Chief Whitman.

Also on Tuesday, one city council member said it was time for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the police department. The Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office has also alerted the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division of the incidents, which it said might point to a "developing pattern" of problems within the department that ought to be addressed by federal law enforcement officials.

"Shooting victim called harmless" (Denver Post)
Protesters call for chief's badge (Rocky Mountain News)
"Feds alerted to killings" (Rocky Mountain News)
"Another stain on already tarnished department" (Rocky Mountain News)
"Death of Paul Childs III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Pro-Institution Supporters Want 1972 Fernald Court Case Reopened

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 14, 2004

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS--Attorney Beryl Cohen knows that people housed at Fernald Developmental Center have to deal with poor building maintenance, vermin infestations and unexplained injuries and deaths.

Cohen wrote about these problems in a lengthy document he filed Wednesday with U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro.

As odd as it may seem, however, Cohen wrote about the problems as a way to battle Governor Mitt Romney's plan to close the 156-year-old facility, the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Cohen argues that the state's decision to close large institutions that house people with developmental disabilities, and move them into smaller, community-based settings, has jeopardized the health and safety of those still inside.

He and family members of some of the 242 people in Fernald want Judge Tauro to reopen a class-action lawsuit that parents had filed against the state in 1972. That suit had charged that the state's five institutions -- then housing 5,000 people with mental retardation -- were understaffed, that staff were not properly trained and that conditions were inhumane.

That suit ended in 1993 with an federal court order requiring the state to provide residents with "equal or better facilities" in the "least restrictive, most normal, appropriate residential environment."

Cohen, who was involved in the original case, is now claiming that the state has "systemically violated" the court order, and that proposed budget cuts will only make things worse for people scheduled to be moved out of Fernald.

Department of Mental Retardation Commissioner Gerald Morrissey called Cohen's claims "fundamentally not true." He pointed out that the state currently spends $165,000 annually on each resident of Fernald, where he said there are now three staff members for each resident.

Governor Romney announced in February of last year that the institution would shut down by October 2004 and its 302 residents moved to other state-run facilities or into homes in the community. The governor hinted that closing Fernald was the first step in his plan to de-institutionalize the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Fernald employees and parents of institution residents have enlisted local support to slow the moves. So far, only a handful have been transferred. One social worker estimated that 12 residents have died since Romney's announcement.

The institution has been brought to the nation's attention recently with the release earlier this year of "The State Boys Rebellion" by Michael D'Antonio. The book detailed claims by several men who say they were incorrectly labeled "feeble-minded" and confined at state facilities, including Fernald, between the 1940s and 1960s.

Among other things, dozens of youngsters at the institutions were made to eat radioactive Quaker Oats oatmeal as part of a government-sponsored Cold War experiment.

Fernald Development Center, originally called the "Massachusetts School for the Feeble Minded", was founded by social reformer Samuel Gridley Howe in 1848. It was later renamed for a former superintendent of the facility.

"Landmark Fernald case to be reopened" (Daily News Tribune)
"Group fights closing of Fernald" (Boston Globe)
"Fernald Developmental Center -- Oldest Institution In the Americas" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Publisher Launches New 'Feel Good' Mental Health Magazine

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 14, 2004

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND--A former editor of Penthouse has launched a new quarterly magazine he says is designed to address mental health issues, without looking like a magazine designed to address mental health issues.

Jonathan Richards is the publisher of There, There media. He told The Guardian that his "There, There" magazine is made to be accessible and inclusive. Some would suggest it is also intended to catch the readers' attention, with glossy covers featuring Sex & the City and Britney Spears.

Richards intends to include articles written by mental health professionals, along with non-professionals, with a focus on improving quality of life.

"What we've produced is a magazine that doesn't stigmatise," the magazine's website boasts.

Titles in the first edition, distributed this week, include "I Wash My Hands 27 Times A Day; Living With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder", and "103 Ways To Get Happy; From Yoga And Meditation To Chocolate".

Editions of "There, There" are being distributed to 6,000 surgeries (doctor's offices). The magazine is supported through commercial advertisements.

"No glossing over the facts; New magazine uses 'celeb appeal' to tackle mental health issues" (The Guardian),7843,1260184,00.html
There, There Media



Specialized Hotels Close From Lack Of Business

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 14, 2004

WORTHING & NORWICH, ENGLAND--Perhaps this is a sign of things to come.

Two hotels that for decades have catered specifically to people with disabilities are closing.

The reason: Other hotels have improved their services, becoming more accessible and welcoming to travelers.

According to a brief item in Wednesday's The Guardian, the Lantern hotel in Worthing, which has been run by the Disabled Driver's Association since 1963, and Ashwellthorpe Hall in Norwich, operated by the Polio Fellowship since 1950, will close their doors this fall. The hotels have tried unsuccessfully in recent years to keep enough beds filled through fundraising, upgrading and promotions.

"This is a very sad time," Graham Ball, chief executive of the Polio Fellowship, told The Guardian. "We kept the Lantern open as long as we could. But despite a massive effort by everyone, we just couldn't do it."

Both groups credited a culture shift and legislation for the hotels' demise. Bills protecting the rights of people with disabilities have brought about significant improvements in how hotels accommodate such travelers.

Still, Ball said he is concerned that people with the most severe disabilities may not be able to get their needs met through more mainstream accommodations.



"Yes, There Are Perks To Living In A Wheelchair"

July 14, 2004

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA--The following three paragraphs are excerpts from a column by the Charlotte Observer's Laura Stinson, who uses a wheelchair:

Since I began writing for the Observer, there have been a few people who have called me bitter because of some of my articles. Allow me to respond: Duh! Of course I'm bitter about my situation from time to time. Wouldn't you be? But it's not my way of life.

To be called bitter for the things I have written here really rubs me the wrong way. The reason I wanted to become a community columnist was so that I could change the way a few people think and thereby change the world. Being disabled, the area I see as needing the most changes is the way the nondisabled world interacts with the disabled community. Unfortunately, to get my point across, I have to focus on negative issues, but, by doing that, I hope I am evoking positive change. People must be made aware of a problem before it can be fixed.

Surprisingly enough, there are some perks to being in a wheelchair. They aren't many, but they are pretty good.

Entire article:
"Yes, there are perks to living in a wheelchair"



National Down Syndrome Society

The National Down Syndrome Society envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to realize their life aspirations.

NDSS is committed to being the national leader in enhancing the quality of life, and realizing the potential of all people with Down syndrome.


# EXTRA!!! From the IDE Archives -- One year ago:

Township To Pay For Violating Residents' Rights In Fight Over Home

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 14, 2003

PETERS TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA--Four men with developmental disabilities will be able to continue living together in a Peters Township neighborhood, and the town will have to pay because it pushed to have them moved.

A federal judge ruled last week that Peters Township violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act when it failed to provide reasonable accommodations in their local zoning laws for the men's home.

Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill Jr. also found that the township had treated people with disabilities differently than other residents, in violation of their constitutional rights to equal protection.

The judge ordered the township to pay $2,400 in damages, plus attorneys fees -- which are likely to run in the tens of thousands of dollars -- to the Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Center which manages the home for the men. The Erie-based company serves people with developmental disabilities in 80 residences across the state. The home at Peters Township is the only Barber residence that has had to go to court to be established.

"What surprises me is that governmental entities still continue to pursue policies of exclusion," the Barber Center's attorney, Jon Pushinski, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The township's manager told the paper he doubts the decision would be appealed.


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