Members of the public and local disability community will hold a vigil this Sunday in Market Square to honor disabled people who were killed at the hands of their caretakers.
The event is part of the National Day of Mourning, which has existed since 2012 and will include 22 cities across the country, not including cities in Canada, Hungary and the U.K. It's designed to raise awareness about the "alarming number of disabled people [who] are killed by family and caregivers," according to Jessica Hughes, a volunteer with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).
In the last five years, according to ASAN
, around 70 people with disabilities have been killed by their parents; the vigil will include a reading of their names. The vigil will also feature speakers in the local disability community including Cori Frazer, an organizer of the local chapter of ASAN whom I wrote about in November
Hughes says an important component of the event is to talk about the way these deaths are covered by news outlets. She points to cases such as London McCabe
— a 6-year-old non-verbal autistic boy whose mother threw him off a bridge in Oregon — as examples of narratives that describe the death of the disabled as somehow understandable.
"It’s not only that the victims are swept to the side; they’re also portrayed as the cause of their own murders,” Hughes says. The vigil will help "remember their lives and remember they had meaning" and encourage people "to think about what it means to be a disabled person murdered by someone you love
1 p.m. in Market Square, Downtown.