Officials in Hollywood, Florida have opened multiple criminal investigations into the deaths of 8 nursing home residents who died Wednesday morning from heat exhaustion during an ongoing power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. The New York Times is reporting that “More than three million customers in Florida still lacked power Wednesday, including roughly 160 nursing homes, according to the state’s tracking system.” Hollywood local paper The Sun-Sentinel is reporting 115 other senior residents at the home were evacuated from the overheated facility, but their relatives remain confused about their health status.
Anticipating, escaping and recovering from a natural disaster takes a heavy psychological toll on survivors. As they rebuild their lives economically they frequently need emotional support from their community. This article by Tony Plohetski, Andrea Ball and Melissa B. Taboada in the Austin American-Statesman (and reprinted in Chicago Tribune) describes how Texas social workers and psychologists are treating patients with psychological trauma after the storm.
The 501(c)3 non-profit Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies is helping evacuees with disabilities communicate with rescuers about their rights. Journalist David M. Perry interviewed Portlight’s co-founder and current chairman, Paul Timmons, to hear more about the group’s efforts in response to Texas flooding.
The attack and kidnapping of a man with mental disabilities in Chicago—the act streamed over Facebook Live—has spurred a host of new media reports on violence and disability over the past week.
Here’s some of the reporting:
- CNN: Facebook video reminder of violence faced by disabled Americans “But while the nature of the remarks on the video have unsurprisingly sparked much discussion about race, Trump and the live streaming of crimes, something important risks being overlooked: the chilling, everyday, truth that to be disabled in America is to be at greater risk of violence.” Read more
- The New York Times: Beating of Disabled Teenager Highlights a Crime That Often Goes Unpunished
“Violence against people with disabilities is far more common than most people realize, advocates have said, and frequently goes undetected or is not taken seriously.” Read more
- AP: Hate-crime charges filed in attack on mentally disabled man
“Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said investigators initially concluded that the 18-year-old man was singled out because he has “special needs,” not because he was white. But authorities later said the charges resulted from both the suspects’ use of racial slurs and their references to the victim’s disability.” Read more
- Vanity Fair: Should the Media Have Promoted the Chicago Brutality Video?
“Now, with Facebook, the “well, it’s already out there on social media, we can’t ignore it” rationalization often takes hold. Thus, there were a great many folks who used portions of the video.” Read more
- Los Angeles Times: The reaction to a viral Facebook video of a hate crime tells us something about postelection America
“Police say they think the victim, whose parents had earlier reported him as missing, was attacked because of his disability, not because of his race.” Read more
- The Christian Science Monitor: Behind Facebook Live attack, unseen scourge of crime against disabled
“Among all the categories of disability, those with cognitive disabilities experience the highest rates of violent crime.” Read more
- Salon: Don’t let racists fool you: The Chicago kidnapping isn’t about Black Lives Matter. It’s about the violence faced by people with disabilities
“This incident is a reminder of the violence that people with disabilities experience in everyday life. The young student, whose name has not been published in the press to protect the privacy of his family, has an intellectual disability, which means that his brain processes information differently than the rest of ours.” Read more
An advocacy group in Arizona is slapping businesses around the Phoenix area with Americans with Disabilities Act-related lawsuit. Read more
Professionals in the fantasy convention world are signing a pledge to refrain from attending the events until accessibility is taken more seriously by organizers. In an article from io9, some panelists at these conventions recount experiences where stages did not have ramps for those using wheelchairs. Read more
Emergency evacuation decisions are tougher for people with disabilities because they need to be sure they are fleeing to shelters that they can get in and out of and use. In the wake of Hurricane Irene, there are allegations today that the City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) fell short on promises that people being ordered out of “Zone A” would be evacuated to “accessible shelters.”
When disaster strikes — whether a deadly supercell tornado, a flood, or man-made catastrophe — it is not just those with physical injuries and trauma-related disorders who suffer.
The city of Los Angeles discriminates against disabled people because it lacks specific plans to meet their needs in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, a federal court ruled Friday, the first such decision in the country.
In Columbus alone, over fifty thousand people are living with special needs. Many of them function in society under normal circumstances quite well — but tornadoes, house fires, and evacuations are not normal circumstances.