January 14, 2015 
In This Issue


Today's Newsdesk contains a lot of timely information, including a protest to be held Friday at City Hall. In the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., let's start 2015 off by fighting for our rights!


Feedback and suggestions are always welcome. You can email them to me directly at: ED@ilrcsf.org

Police Brutality Case Goes to the Supreme Court - May Threaten the ADA


A movement against police brutality has been steadily building in this country with mounting public outcry rightly naming systemic racism as a major cause. What has not been as frequently discussed is that discrimination against people with disabilities plays another major role in much of the brutality. According to a recent statement from the ACLU's Disability Counsel, Susan Mizner, "Many people recognize the names Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, African-Americans killed by the police. Less well known are the names Milton Hall, James Boyd, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, and Tanisha Anderson. They are people with psychiatric disabilities - most of them people of color - shot and killed by police. In many cases, police were responding to requests for assistance to get the person mental health care." San Francisco's City Attorney is taking one such case to the Supreme Court.


Imagine the scene: It's 2008. Teresa Sheehan, a woman in her mid-50's with a history of psychiatric disability is in crisis. Off her medication and in the midst of a psychotic episode, Ms. Sheehan barricades herself in her room at the group home where she lives, brandishing a knife when her caseworker tries to perform a welfare check. Clearly not well, Ms. Sheehan's caseworker alerts the police that she needs help. Fortunately, the San Francisco Police Department maintains a team of officers capable of responding to individuals in psychiatric crisis who've been trained in proven de-escalation techniques to get people the care they need in times of great psychiatric distress. Unfortunately help is not what arrived that August day. Instead of waiting for back up from properly trained officers, two police entered Ms. Sheehan's room with guns drawn and proceeded to shoot her five times.


Amazingly, despite being shot in the face, Ms. Sheehan lived to tell. Eventually, she sued the City and County of San Francisco for the violation of her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, has appealed the case, asking the Supreme Court to hear it and they have agreed to do so.


San Francisco has long been a leader when it comes to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. We're famous for, and proud of, our reputation as a community that embraces all of its' citizens. We're a city that welcomes diversity and human difference as part of the colorful tapestry we call humanity. This is why San Franciscans of all stripes should be embarrassed to have this fight happening in their name. The highest court in the land is poised to decide the case based on the following question: "Does the ADA apply during encounters with the police?" Frankly, even asking this question is a miscarriage of justice. The ADA is a nondiscrimination law which is always in effect. It was designed to provide broad protections for some of the most vulnerable and gravely misunderstood people in society. Mr. Herrera's suit could open the floodgates to weakening the only protection people with disabilities have. This is incredibly dangerous, especially considering that people with psychiatric disabilities make up as much as half of the number of people shot by police between 2000 and 2012.


Susan Mizner has said, "Dennis Herrera may not want to hurt the ADA, but he has no control over what the Supreme Court does - and they accepted this case for a reason. Civil rights organizations from around the country have asked him to drop this appeal, and settle the case, or try it on its merits. He can support SFPD officers without undermining the ADA." The disability community cannot afford to allow this happen. We are organizing a public comment campaign. I ask you to join us by writing to both Mayor Lee and Mr. Herrera and demanding that they heed the call of civil rights advocates and San Franciscans alike by dropping the appeal.


Jessie Lorenz


Honorable Ed Lee

Mayor, City and County of San Francisco

City Hall, 1 Doctor Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200

San Francisco, CA 94102

Dennis Herrera

City Attorney, City and County of San Francisco

City Hall, 1 Doctor Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 234

San Francisco, CA  94102


Please email me a copy of your letters at: ed@ilrcsf.org 

Access Now Regional Quarterly Meeting at ILRCSF 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

ILRCSF - Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco
825 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103


*Teleconference line provided with registration confirmation prior to the date.*

The Winter quarterly Access Now Regional Campaign meeting will concentrate on developing new plans to continue making transportation and housing more accessible for people with disabilities in the Bay Area. Beginning with an update and discussion on BART train car advocacy, community members will then turn to identify other transportation priorities like maintenance and safety. There will also be an opportunity for folks interested in accessible and affordable housing to organize public education and skills development efforts. Please invite your networks, everyone is welcome! Click here to find out more and to register!


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Die-in Against Police Abuses at City Hall Friday


"Die-In" to Protest our justice system's failure to prosecute the killing of unarmed civilians, including Eric Garner, Michael Brown & John Crawford - Join the Disability Contingent!


Friday, January 16th, 2015

8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

350 McAllister Street (@Civic Center)

Outside the California Supreme Court

The Action will start promptly at 9 a.m., Rain or Shine.


*Those who are unable to lie down due to disability or for another reason are encouraged to participate in a manner most comfortable for them. Sign Language interpretation will be available.  Contact jack.morris2014@gmail.com for any other accommodation requests.  


After the Die-In, we welcome everyone to accompany us to the San Francisco City Attorney's office where we will direct our protest toward the handling of the Sheehan police shooting case, which the City Attorney has appealed to the Supreme Court.  This case has the potential to undermine the ADA's protections nationwide.  Please let us know if you can join us for this as well; send responses tojack.morris2014@gmail.com.  


The larger the crowd, the greater the impact.  See you out there!


SPONSORS (list in formation): ACLU of Northern California, ACLU Disability Rights Program,  Alliance for Justice, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), Equal Justice Society, Equal Rights Advocates, Impact Fund, Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, The National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Youth Law, National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Public Advocates, The Public Interest Law Project, and UC Hastings Black Law Students Association.  



Jessie's sig  
Jessie Lorenz

Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco | ed@ilrcsf.org | http://www.ilrcsf.org
825 Howard Street
Street Level
San Francisco, CA 94103

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