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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Vigil for Disabled Murder Victims

In The Politics of Autism, I write:
People with disabilities are victims of violent crime three times as often as people without disabilities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does not report separately on autistic victims, but it does note that the victimization rate is especially high among those whose disabilities are cognitive. A small-sample study of Americans and Canadians found that adults with autism face a greater risk of sexual victimization than their peers. Autistic respondents were more than twice as likely to say that had been the victim of rape and over three times as likely to report unwanted sexual contact.
Previous posts have discussed parents who have killed or tried to kill their ASD children

Emily Alpert Reyes at LAT:
In the Burbank chapel, as attendees braced to hear the names of the dead, Pastor Ryan Chaddick welcomed the sparse crowd with familiarity.

“I’m here tonight, and we’re doing this,” said Chaddick, dressed simply in black, “because for some reason in 2023 we have to say to the world that killing disabled people is wrong.”

It seemed ridiculous, he said, to even have to announce that.

“But as long as disabled people are killed for being disabled,” he said, “I will rage against the night and we will light candles as protest and we will cuss and we will pray.”

Roughly a dozen people had trickled into the Burbank church on that frigid evening at the beginning of March to mark Disability Day of Mourning. To hear the names of people killed by parents and other relatives or caregivers. To listen to poems, songs, and readings about the outrage of disabled people losing their lives to those who were supposed to safeguard them.

For the Lutheran pastor, like many others in the chapel, the horror of those killings hits home. He is an autistic man, diagnosed in adulthood. He is also the father of autistic children, one of whose diagnosis set in motion his own. And his own path to understanding his daughters and himself led him to rethinking things in his life and his church.

“All of us — um, pretty sure, because I know you, or I’ve talked to you — everyone here is disabled or crazy,” Chaddick, 38, told the attendees with a slight smile and a nod before the readings began. “Welcome.”

In the United States, people with disabilities are nearly four times as likely to be a victim of a violent crime as those without disabilities, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis. And when they are victimized, people with disabilities are twice as likely as other people to suffer violence at the hands of a family member — including their parents.

More than a decade ago, Zoe Gross helped launch the annual, now-international event in reaction to the framing of news stories about one such killing. Gross, director of advocacy for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, was appalled by news coverage after the killing of 22-year-old Sunnyvale resident George Hodgins, who was shot by his mother, who then shot herself.