Candace Coleman has big sign on her desk that reads: Black Disabled Lives Matter.
Coleman says black, disabled people are sometimes unfairly viewed as disobeying police commands. Being deaf, autistic or mentally ill may mean people don’t respond to police commands, in the way that authorities expect. That sometimes results in violence.
“We’ve been doing advocacy work around police brutality and disability and it seems like when we first started no one was listening,” says Coleman.
But lately, she says, she’s felt a shift. She worked with the Department of Justice to make sure the hearings they’ve held were accessible. DOJ was so interested in the testimonies they heard from the disability community, it worked with Coleman and Access living to organize an additional meeting.
People voiced concerns like the need for better communication and for police to treat communities more respectfully.
Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @shannon_h.