Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Friday, September 2, 2016


from a Press Release on Aug. 31, 2016
Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (“HEARD”) strongly condemns the law enforcement killings of deaf veteran, Darnell T. Wicker, in Louisville, KY; and of Daniel K. Harris, a Deaf man, in Charlotte, NC.

For years, HEARD has collected and catalogued stories of police brutality from our community in our Log of Police Brutality & Discrimination Against Deaf People. In 2014, after noticing an alarming trend of unnecessarily violent police interactions with deaf people, HEARD spearheaded a national “Know Your Deaf Rights” Campaign in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union. Among other things, this Campaign delivered to the U.S. Department of Justice, a petition signed by over 23,000 people, demanding national standards for law enforcement interacting with deaf people. HEARD still provides deaf community-led workshops for police and sheriff departments wherein law enforcement time and again admit to being woefully unprepared to work with our diverse communities. Simultaneously, we continue to support attorneys litigating cases involving police departments’ continued violations of long-standing federal disability rights laws requiring de-escalation and other reasonable accommodations.

Already this year, over 750 people have been killed by law enforcement. Studies show that no less than 60-80% of these victims are people with disabilities. Notably, Black people and other people of color are disproportionately represented among these victims. Similarly, HEARD’s multi-year investigation into police brutality against deaf people illustrates a clear pattern of police violence against deaf people with more than one marginal identity. So, Deaf Disabled, Deaf Black, Deaf Latinx, Deaf Indigenous; and Deaf people with Mental Illness, Deaf people who live in low/no income communities, for example, are disproportionately represented in the narratives we have collected. Although, many are just now taking notice, police brutality against marginalized and multiply-marginalized communities has long-since demonstrated the need for honest discussions about the very real connections between racism, classism, audism and ableism—each of which are deeply embedded in police culture, policies and practices.

While many well-meaning individuals and organizations continue to propose Deaf driver cards and yet more deaf/disability-specific “training” as the only solutions to these tragedies, we submit that neither are. These trainings and cards have existed for decades; and many of the victims were killed by “specially trained” officers. At very minimum, HEARD demands national guidelines; a serious cultural and role shift in “policing;” a decrease in contact between law enforcement and deaf/disabled individuals, for example, by and through crisis hotlines that do not invite armed officers where they need not be; deaf/disability disaggregation of government data on law enforcement-related violence; and actual accountability for officers who abuse their authority. Further, law enforcement must not assume that alleged “non-compliance” or “atypical behavior” is a “threat” justifying lethal force.

We are calling on our communities to practice solidarity with communities affected by police violence that also are demanding an end to police violence. For example, the Black Lives Matter Movement is calling for an end to police violence against Black people—this necessarily includes Black Disabled, Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing people. To be sure, working to end violence against Black people is, in fact, working to end violence against all people—including deaf and disabled people. We believe that cross-movement solidarity is critical to effectively addressing these terribly tragic and avoidable incidents. This kind of solidarity requires deaf and disability communities to advance racial and economic justice; and communities of color to advance disability and deaf justice.

We owe it to Darnell, Daniel, and all people, to stop these preventable deaths. HEARD is an all-volunteer organization. Our very existence evidences the incredible power of people, intersectionality, and love in social justice activism. Please join us in working to achieve racial, economic, disability and deaf justice—simultaneously. Our work will continue until all people can live free from all violence.


HEARD is an all-volunteer nonprofit that works to identify & remove barriers that prevent disabled and deaf people from participating in and having equal access to the legal system. HEARD leads an ongoing national campaign to curtail police brutality against deaf individuals; created a national deaf prisoner database; and investigates deaf wrongful convictions.

For more info about Police Brutality Against Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled and Hard of Hearing People:

Related Posts:

Daniel Kevin Harris Who Was Deaf, Fatally Shot to Death After N.C. Trooper Traffic Stop, UPDATE with video of start of chase

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