Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Were They Thinking!!!

I have to talk about the latest of several recent beatings and arrests of disabled individuals: This time it was a young man with Down Syndrome.

He was strip searched, punched and body slammed by two officers, right in front of his house at 9:00 in the evening. He had been walking home from a friend's house all by himself.

The newspaper report says he is 5 foot 3 inches tall and weighs 130 pounds.

And two trained police officers couldn't get this little guy under control without hurting him? Yeah, right!

It just so happens that the "suspicious bulge" under his clothes, which was what attracted the police, was - are you ready for this - a colostomy bag!

What is it with people (police) that they have to be so violent!

Here's the thing: I don't know this particular young man, but I have experience with many DS individuals, including my daughter.

Beth, a DS individual, actually takes 10 minutes to process and respond to new or unusual information. I know this is true because I have timed her.

Does anybody get it? She's retarded. "Retarded" is not an insult; it is a highly accurate description of people with Down Syndrome. "Retarded" means

S L O W.....!

If your thinking is very slow, you might adjust to this fast paced world (and police officers) by freezing your actions, taking a defensive posture, maybe shouting "no" or "stop it," etc. What else can you do if you're scaired and you can't comprehend the demands that are coming at you way too fast!

I'm trying to train Beth to say, "Just a minute," or "I need time to think," so that people might slow down a bit when confronting her. (And then she'd better 'fess up if she is indeed the guilty party!)

Down Syndrome people are said to be stubborn. No, they are not. They're just thinking (and constantly trying to keep up).

Authorities of all types - and especially the Police - need to have constant training in how to deal with disabled individuals. I can't emphasize this enough, because they (the police) are armed and dangerous!

When I was working as a case manager I had a client who was retarded (not DS), about 20 years old, and not looked after very well by his family. He was hyper-active, and always hungry, and very thin.

He was also very polite, shy, and cooperative. Truly a gentle soul.

One morning he walked into the convenience store in his neighborhood and stole two small bottles of juice.

For that, a police officer chased him down all the way back to his apartment, and shot him dead.

There were no complaints, no investigation, nothing happened to that officer. Nobody cared about Kerby alive, and nobody cared that he died.

Sorry, I can't add a happy ending to this post.

Sometimes we just have to sit with the fact that bad things happen. When I think about Kerby, I know, guaranteed, that he is in a better place, because this world just wasn't good enough for him.

I'm not bitter. Just determined to do what I can to help. So this morning I sent my comments to the Miami Herald and Channel 10 News. And I am publishing this post to inform and educate.

Now I think I'll call a friend. And maybe sew something nice.

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."
– Virginia Satir


Jude Ongley-Mowris said...

Well said, and a VERY GOOD POST! I learned soomething today that I did not know, and for that I thank you. Carry on sister.....I'm behind you!
Jude *

Carol Shoemaker said...

And I really appreciate your support. Thank you for all the encouragement in this and many areas!

Anonymous said...

Nothing else needs to be said, but it needs to be said again and again and again.

Carol Shoemaker said...

I like that, Suze!