Commentary on Occupy L.A. by radical crrpl gurl, Emma Rosenthal
Well, OccupyLA is in full swing, complete with police collaboration, and the predictable exclusion and marginalization of those sectors of our community most impacted by the already existing several hundred year, occupation of L.A.. causing many to quip, “You can’t occupy stolen land.” I’ve not even attempted to attend OccupyLA. I have first hand experience provided to me by my partner, Andy, and other friends, who’ve attempted to participate in ways that are honored and empowered. For example, I understand that there are porta-potties, but they aren’t the wheelchair accessible type. (Exclusive bathrooms??? how 1964!)
From all reports there has been no planning to assure dis-ability inclusion (big surprise) and any attempt to raise issues of social justice, racism, sexism, police brutality or dis-ability inclusion, have been shot down by what apparently is a movement lead by people who found their way beyond La Brea Blvd into the jungle of the unknown to the East, only to demand that the event disregard the input of those not from the exclusive enclaves of West Los Angeles. This movement that claims to be about the other 99% seems dominated by the top 5% of that majority. In Los Angeles, remove issues of gender, race and dis-ability, and you have a very small, pwod (people without dis-abilities) white male minority indeed.
I did make several attempts to reach OccupyLA, posting both my inquiry, and my link to resources for accessible event planning, to their fb page, and to their twitter account, asking what had been done to include PWDs, (people with dis-abilities) in the program, providing resources (though the link) and offering my own labor and support. But i’ve received no official response, though those who support Occupy LA , considered my efforts at increasing outreach and participation unwelcome, even accusing me of being a troll. I have to say, I met a few amazing people through the online exchange, and got more support on the issue than I’ve been used to. (I don’t know why I just don’t shut up on the issue, but I don’t. I’m strangely tenacious that way!)
On Facebook, I was told by one person that there was actually a committee to deal with Dis-ability inclusion, and to go to the web page (I did, there isn’t, she lied). Another person told me the park is totally accessible (even with crowds and no facilitation of access?) and that accessible bathrooms are available in City Hall (when it is open, and thru a metal detector, requiring PWDs in wheelchairs to be subjected to a pat down). She also told me to come down and talk to the organizers (at the inaccessible event!) Others told me the same, and to form a contingent, as if I could participate without advanced planning to assure I and other dis-folk could even get our bodies into the park.
Even if I had formed a PWD inclusive anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, human rights affirming, contingent, and we were ready to descend on the park (a dis-abilty affirmative contingent would have to be formed off site first because of logistics), who would we need to talk to to get access, with (and this would be basic) our ACCESSIBLE porta-potties, and other equipment? Remember, repeated attempts on my part to dialogue with the organizers went unanswered. right?
Those weren’t the only responses I got, Someone else tweeted me to let me know Ron Kovic had spoken “from his chair”, as if one celebrity crrpl (who is NOT a dis-ability rights activist or advocate) means there’s access. Others said they saw other people with canes and wheelchairs, so I should just shut up. (Did anyone ask them what it took to attend, and if they needed anything?, so is attending, by extension, a form of complicity, simply because by being seen, we’re allowing PWODs to deny access issues persist?) And what of Ron Kovic? Do the crowds respond to his celebrity, the same way they respond to ordinary crrpl folk? Does he bring his own attendants and assistants? Shoot, Ron can afford a driver, and even his own personal RV, complete with bathroom if he needs one. This ISN’T a personal issue. IT MUST BE TREATED AS A COLLECTIVE ISSUE!!!
SO WHAT TO DO!!????
-If you’re at OccupyLA, demand full inclusion, addressing issues of dis-abilty, race, gender, etc. And if anyone wants to discuss organizing Decolonize L.A. or even a human rights village within OccupyLA, including full dis-inclusion, hit me up. (comment here, or contact me on FB or twitter)
-You can follow me on twitter, and RETWEET my tweets on the issue: http://twitter.com/emma_rosenthal
-You can go to the OccupyLA Facebook page and demand full accountability and access, and of course include other issues of marginalization into your demands (race, gender, etc)
-You can also follow the threads I started on the issue, on the OccupyLA list, and please, add your own position on the issue. Let them know, dis-ing dis-ability is uncool. The first link has many comments, and if you read thru them all, they get sidesplittingly funny!
And my most recent:
Other commentaries on the problems at OccupyLA, include:
Personally, and I’ve told him, I wish Victor had included dis-ability access issues in his piece. I hope he does so in future efforts.
Finally, please feel free to share with OccupyLA, these resources, and to use them in planning your own events.