Justice for Asa Sullivan

Asa SullivanPeople with mental health disabilities are four times as likely to be killed by police, according to the Department of Justice.

Please help support the family of Asa Sullivan, who was killed by SFPD on June 6, 2006 in an attic crawl space in the home where he lived. The officers who killed him were found not guilty in court and Asa’s death was determined to be “suicide by cop.”

Now the family is being made to pay $10,000 to purchase transcripts from the federal trial, which they have to do in order to appeal the court’s decision.

Local activists have committed to raising $2000 of that cost, as part of an ongoing People’s Investigation into the murder of Asa Sullivan. There is just one week left to raise $1000, please contribute now by clicking HEREAsa Sullivan 1


Posted in Activism, Death, Disability Justice, Mental Disability, Police Violence, Race | Leave a comment

When A Board of Directors Goes Bad

Listen 29 min

Stephen Drake

Stephen Drake of “Not Dead Yet”

When the Board of Directors at the Disability Rights Legal Center in L.A. announced that it had hired an executive director with a history of lobbying for physician-assisted suicide, gasps were heard nationwide.  

All of the major national disability groups have taken a position to oppose bills legalizing assisted suicide as a matter of public policy.  In September of last year, twenty six disability organizations and prominent individuals wrote a letter to the L.A. Board of Directors asking for a meeting to discuss their hiring of Kathryn Tucker.  They received no response.

That controversial hiring decision didn’t happen in a vacuum. 

Today, we talk to Steven Drake, research analyst from “Not Dead Yet,” about disability non-profits and the boards that are responsible for their oversight.

The L.A. center’s board is filled with white employment defense attorneys who identify as non-disabled.  These are people who built their careers fighting for the Big Guys.  The board of “Not Dead Yet”  has many members who live with a disability — and many seasoned disability activists — among its ranks.Disability Rights Legal Center

Hosts Eddie Ytuarte and Adrienne Lauby, talk to Stephen Drake about the policies and hard work needed keep our beloved institutions healthy.  We only have to look at the “Disability Rights Legal Center” for an example of what happens when they fail.Not Dead Yet Logo

(Despite repeated requests, the Disability Rights Legal Center declined to appear on this program.)



Masked? FaceGroup exhibition in which artists with and without disabilities artists claim and define their own identities, experiment, and make their own rules

Group Exhibition on view March 24–April 23, 2015. Free admission during gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday, 12–7 pm and Saturday, 12–5 pm.

Dis/Play Opening Reception
Visual art opening reception features live participatory painting, comedy, and interactive installations including musical instruments.

Thursday, March 26, 6–9 pm. Comedy at 7pm.
Click here for more info. 

Axis Dance Performance & DIS/PLAY Artists Panel
Wednesday, April 8, 6–9pm. 6 pm exhibition tours, 7 pm performance, film screening, 8pm panel. Free with RSVP on EventBrite.

Click here for more info. 

Dis/Play Closing Reception
Visual art closing reception features a poetry performance & screening of “Sins Invalid”

Thursday, April 23, 6–9pm. Free with RSVP on EventBrite.

All events, and the exhibit itself, are free, but some need an advance RSVP.  Everything is wheelchair/ADA accessible.  ASL interpretation will be provided during each of the events.


Next Thursday, March 26, is the opening reception for the exhibit Dis/Play at the SOMArts Cultural Center.  This exhibit is an unusually large and exceptional gathering of artists who work within the disability culture.   It opens next Tuesday and runs through April 23 at 934 Brannan Street—between 8th and 9th streets in San Francisco. SOMArts is easily reached by car or public transportation.  

Sally Lewis,  The Swinging Castle, silk free-form

Sally Lewis, The Swinging Castle, silk free-form

The opening reception from 6-9 pm next Thursday includes hands-on art exploration and a 45-minute performance by “The Comedians With Disabilities Act.” 

On Wednesday, April 8, there will be a performance by the Axis Dance Company, and the closing night, April 23, highlights film and poetry performances.  The late Casper Banjo is one of the artists featured in the exhibit.  As many of you know, Casper Banjo was killed by an Oakland police officer in 2008 and this is a rare opportunity to see his work.  

Before you decide NOT to go, take a look at this expanded description.  There’s a lot here you probably don’t want to miss.

Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Disability Organizations, Eddie Ytuarte | Tagged , , , , , , , | | Leave a comment

The First Time You Felt Your Disability

Listen (29 min)

dolls with white cane wheelchairWhen was the first time you really felt your disability? Not some doctor telling you about it, not some family member crying about it; not even you, doubting your ability to prevail and grow; but the first time you ran smack into the wall and landed on your bum with the wind knocked out of you?

And when you were able to breathe again… what did you do?FItness- People moving across gym floor, wheelchairs, canes






Hosts Sheela-Gunn-Cushman and Adrienne Lauby open the phones to hear your history.   

Stars Out:  Asa Sullivan and Idriss Stelley

Also, special guests, Nomy Lamm and Lisa Genser, play and discuss their new song, “Stars Out,” in memory of Asa Sullivan and Idriss Stelley.  Both men were killed by police during a mental health crisis. 

Asa Sullivan’s family is raising money for a trial transcript so they can appeal the court’s decision in his wrongful death trial.  You can help them out here.


Sins Invalid free this Sunday and Monday at UC Berkeley

Mourn the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living
March 8th and 9th, 2015

There will be no charge for these events.

Sun, March 8, 5:30 pmAltar construction with community, 120 Kroeber, UC Berkeley

Mon, March 9, 4:30 pm Performance,Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley.  Sins Invalid artists confirmed for this performance include: Leroy Moore, Kiyaan Abadani, Patty Berne, Nomy Lamm, Lisa Ganser, Todd Herman, Micah Bazant, Olegario Martinez, and Damon Johnson.

Nomi Lamm from Sins Invalid

Nomi Lamm from Sins Invalid

Sins Invalid is a disability justice based performance project that celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized. Led by disabled people of color, we develop and present cutting-edge work where paradigms of the “normative body” are challenged, offering instead a vision of beauty and power inclusive of all individuals and communities.  By creating high-quality artistic work by disabled artists of color/disabled queer artists, we alter the cultural context in which individuals with disabilities and disability communities are seen and experienced, nurturing an aesthetic vision which honors all bodies are recognized as sacred and beautiful. *

 “Disability Liberated” is an artistic expression acknowledging police violence against people with disabilities and the disabled people killed by imprisonment or other forms of carceral institutionalization.  Disability Liberated includes an altar to those killed in conjunction with Sins Invalid performance, centering the stories and voices of people at threat of and surviving violence within the intersections of ableism and the prison industrial complex.

Disability Liberated” was curated for Disability Incarcerated, an event hosted by UC Berkeley’s Carceral Geographies program, bringing together scholars, students, activists, and community members to map the intersections of policing, imprisonment, and the disabled body.  This event seeks to step into the conspicuous void within critiques of the “prison industrial complex” – namely the absence of discussion of disability oppression, despite the disproportionate representation of people with disabilities within prisons and gated institutions.


original air date:  3-6-15
Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Arts, Call In Program, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

What Lies behind the Wish to Hasten Death?

"We are Time" by Santiago Caruso http://www.santiagocaruso.com.ar/

“We are Time” by Santiago Caruso

By Stephanie Sugars

We can begin with What Lies behind the Wish to Hasten Death? (1)  a basic introduction to the inner workings of those considering “things I really don’t want to live through before I’m dead”.

Pop Quiz:

Where do you or your loved one stand in your intentions toward dying? If you too are considering your own dying, answer the questions for yourself. If your loved one is approaching death, then imagine her/his answer to each statement.

I used a mental toaster slide lever – cool, warm, hot – for each category.

1)  Wish to live
–Acceptance of dying

2)  Wish to die.

a.  Not considering hastening death

  — Looking forward to dying
–Hoping that dying happens more quickly
–Desiring to die (but hastening death is not considered)

     b.  Considering hastening death

Hypothetically considering hastening death (in future, if certain things happen)
–Actually considering hastening death, but at the moment (for moral or other reasons) it is not an option
–Actually considering hastening death, hastening death is a (moral) option

3)  Will to die
–Explicit request
–Refusing life-sustaining support (such as food or treatments) with the intention of hastening death
–Acting towards dying (such as suicide or assisted dying)

How’d you do?

Whether you believe in the “right to die” or the “sanctity of life” or “preservation of life at all costs,” I hope this gave you pause to consider more subtleties than our culture’s polarized debates around euthanasia, the good death.


Art by Moki.  http-//www.cuded.com/2013/03/surreal-paintings-by-moki/


Advanced Study

The authors of that study of 30 terminally ill patients in Switzerland (2), wrote a longer, fuller exploration of the same group. (3) I feel this is brilliant and important for anyone with or anyone serving those with terminal illness. (study participants died on average 23 days after their “exams”).

The depth of exploration is exciting and the authors’ open minds and hearts are reflecting in their approach to the participants and the study results.

The depth of exploration. T he authors seem to have open minds and hearts with their patients/study subjects. Their openness extends to their study results.

Here’s an excerpt:

Meanings of wish-to-die statements (open list):

A wish to die can be a wish

1. To allow a life-ending process to take its course

2. To let death put an end to severe suffering

3. To end a situation that is seen as an unreasonable demand

4. To spare others from the burden of oneself

5. To preserve self-determination in the last moments of life

6. To end a life that is now without value

7. To move on to another reality

8. To be an example to others

9. To not have to wait until death arrives

Take the toaster slide lever quiz on this one too.

from: http://www.thearthole.co.uk/

Graphic by Rob White, from: http://www.thearthole.co.uk/


This is from the article’s conclusion:

Without detailed understanding of the specific intention of a [wish to die] WTD, and without insight into its specific meanings, reasons and functions, it will be difficult to understand what a patient actually wants and why wishing it is important to her or him…caregivers have a triple responsibility: first, to cultivate the skill of active listening; second, to reflect on their own ideas and fears; and, third, to facilitate both the patient’s inner dialogue and discussion of his or her wishes about life and dying.


Dying has changed in my lifetime and it will continue to change. Those with access to extreme medical treatments will have to wrestle with those risks and benefits, while most will continue to be medically underserved. How we die is often a consequence of how we’ve lived.

But dying is not a medical event, it’s a consequence of being alive.  And, in the best of all possible worlds, it’s a communal event.  I’d like to see wise elders who’ve developed the insight and skills to stay present with dying – whether their own or their loved ones.

I’m not afraid of death, but to be there when it happens, the dying itself, well, I’ll need human and divine companionship for that ultimate adventure.

Thank you, dear readers for staying with me through this long discussion. And thank you for reflecting on lessons from the dying.

Oh, your final exam? The next deaths in your life!

My study tips – show up, pay attention, be open to the mystery.

Head for the light!


The Five Remembrances

* I am of the nature to grow old. I cannot escape growing old.

* I am of the nature to have ill health. I cannot escape having ill health.

* I am of the nature to die. I cannot escape death.

* All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature of change. I cannot escape being separated from them.

* My deeds are my closest companions. I am the beneficiary of my deeds. My deeds are the ground on which I stand.


Painting by Catrin Arno.  http://www.redbubble.com/people/catrinarno/portfolio

Painting by Catrin Arno. http://www.redbubble.com/people/catrinarno/portfolio

(1) What Lies behind the Wish to Hasten Death? A Systematic Review and Meta-Ethnography from the Perspective of Patients

a free full text article


(2) Intentions in wishes to die: analysis and a typology–a report of 30 qualitative case studies of terminally ill cancerpatients in palliative care.

a free full text article

(3) What a wish to die can mean: reasons, meanings and functions of wishes to die, reported from 30 qualitative case studies of terminally ill cancer patients in palliative care.

a free full text article


This article first appeared in a slightly different form on Stephanie Sugars’ LifeLine Blog.  It’s an excellent place for thoughtful,  factual and emotion-filled explorations of issues related to chronic illness and dying.

Posted in Death | Tagged , , | | Leave a comment

Physician-Assisted Suicide Debate

Listen (29 min)

Graphic by WBNS Ch10 T.V.


Physician-assisted suicide is in the California news again.  In a flurry of media coverage, Brittany Maynard traveled to Oregon to die.  A  doctor-prescribed suicide bill was introduced in California at the end of January. 


Now, a new court case is arguing that terminal patients have a right under the California State Constitution to a doctor-prescribed drug to kill themselves.


Marilyn Golden.  Photo by Sacamento Bee

Marilyn Golden. Photo by Sacramento Bee

It’s a good time for a debate.


Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, argues against allowing any authority figure to participate in the death of disabled or other individuals. Golden fought for the Americans with Disabilities Act and is an expert in its application.


She has represented the disability community in many debates and dialogues opposing the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia, authored articles explaining the issue, and worked to defeat assisted suicide legislation in Hawaii, Vermont, and California. None of these bills have passed.


George Eighmey

George Eighmey

George Eighmey, J.D., Vice President of the Death with Dignity National Center, maintains that it is a human right to have control of our own death, with assistance from those who normally help us in the medical world.  

He supported Oregon’s right-to-die law as a state legislator in 1997 and again as executive director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon (which later became Compassion & Choices of Oregon.)


Listen in as these two national leaders, and host Eddie Ytuarte, consider an issue that is truly one of life and death.

Posted in Death, Eddie Ytuarte, Politics | Tagged , , | | Leave a comment

Mission statement

Pushing Limits is produced at KPFA radio in Berkeley, California, by a collective of unpaid staff members. It airs the 1st, 3rd and 5th Friday of each month at from 2:30-3 pm
from KPFA radio, 94.1 fm. Collective members are people with disabilities.

Our mission is to produce a radio program by people with disabilities that reflects the culture and thought of people  with disabilities in the Bay Area and beyond.  We are a
proud part of the disability rights movement and approach our program from the left side of the political dial.  Our guests are almost exclusively people with disabilities because we
are generally the most expert people on the issues of our lives.  

Pushing Limits began airing on KPFA in October of 2003.  Our topics range from personal stories about individual disabilities to national and international political and policy
questions.  We analyze our problems, voice our outrage, celebrate our strength, and spend a fair amount of time laughing.

To learn more about what we do, go to our website and browse the archives (since 2009).


Contact us:
(510) 848-6767 ex 636

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“Not Dead Yet” Board of Directors

The “Not Dead Yet” Board of Directors not only has many members who live with a disability but has many seasoned disability activists among its members.  Its flaw is in having only two easily identified people of color on the board.  Scroll down for biographies and pictures.

Anita Cameron

Anita Cameron

Anita Cameron

Anita Cameron hails from Chicago, Illinois. She holds a degree in Biology from University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and a degree in Computer Information Systems from Community College of Denver.

In 1986, Anita joined ADAPT, a national, grassroots disability rights organization. In 27 years of involvement, she has risen to a position of national leadership. She was invited to the White House on two occasions, has met three sitting U.S. Presidents and two Vice-Presidents, helped to organize a national March, and was published in a book by the late award-winning writer and historian, Howard Zinn.

In 2004, while in Washington, DC, Anita trained to become a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member. In 2008, she helped to form the first CERT class consisting of people with disabilities in Rochester, New York. After joining Denver CERT in 2011, Anita became the first visually impaired CERT instructor for the State of Colorado in 2012, and in 2013, became a CERT Program Manager for the State. She has assisted in numerous exercises and real-world incidents with Denver CERT, including serving as a radio communications operator during the Colorado Flood of 2013.

Samantha CraneSamantha Crane
Samantha Crane is Director of Public Policy at the national office of Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). Samantha previously served as staff attorney at the Bazelon Center of Mental Health Law, focusing on enforcing the right to community integration as established by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C., and as an associate at the litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart, & Sullivan, L.L.P., where she focused on patent and securities litigation. From 2009 to 2010, Samantha served as law clerk to the Honorable Judge William H. Yohn at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
She graduated magna cum laude in June 2009 from Harvard Law School, where she was Senior Content Editor for the Journal of Law and Gender.. During law school she interned at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she worked in the Disability Rights Section. She also interned at the American Bar Association’s Commission on Mental and Physical Disability, the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts and Harvard Law School’s clinical programs in special education and in disability and estate planning.  Samantha holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College, with high honors, in Psychology.

Horacio Esparza
Horacio Esparza has been the Executive Director of Progress Center for Independent Living since 2008, after serving in other positions there since 1999. He also produces and hosts the first radio show in the country dedicated to disability rights, culture and the independent living philosophy. The radio show “Vida Independiente” (“Independent Living”) is transmitted live every Saturday morning from 9am to noon on WNTD 950 AM and on streaming live audio around the world at www.radiovidaindependiente.com; the first hour is in English followed by two hours in Spanish.

Horacio Esparza, seated
Horacio Esparza, seated

Horacio Esparza is a highly sought speaker on the subject of people with disabilities at the local, national and international level. Recent speaking engagements include presentations at annual conferences at the ISPALMER held in Bayomon, Puerto Rico, the National Council on Independent Living in Washington, D.C., and Fiesta Educativa in California.

Horacio Esparza was born in the city of Zacatecas, México, studied at the school for the blind in the City of Guadalajara, Jalisco and went on to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic-American Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also received a degree in philosophy from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Jalisco. Horacio is a member of the Illinois Statewide Hispanic Council and an active participant in the Immigrants with Disabilities Rights Project. He is a recipient of the 2006 William F. Lynch Award from the Guild for the Blind.

Horacio is a long time member of Not Dead Yet, participating in a Chicago protest at a Final Exit Network conference, and representing NDY in national and local Spanish media coverage of the assisted suicide issue.

Amy E. HasbrouckAmy E. Hasbrouck
Amy E. Hasbrouck has been a disability rights activist for more than 30 years. Ms. Hasbrouck’s activism combines her personal experience with congenital and acquired disability with a cross-oppression analysis gained through involvement in the women’s rights, anti-war, LGBT, and other social justice movements. She worked in architectural access and the independent living movement before graduating from Northeastern University School of Law in 1997. Her subsequent legal work focused on health and mental health law and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ms. Hasbrouck has focused her writing and research skills on abuse of children and adults with disabilities, producing a groundbreaking report on prosecution and sentencing of parents who kill their disabled children in 1997. This study led to her involvement with Not Dead Yet, the disability rights-based opposition to assisted suicide, euthanasia, and other “end-of-life” practices that discriminate against people with disabilities which continues to this day. Ms. Hasbrouck is currently a board member of Not Dead Yet in the U.S., and Director of Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet, a project of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities to expand the reach of CCD’s ending of life ethics committee. She lives with her husband in Québec, Canada.

Kevin IrvineKevin Irvine

Kevin Irvine is a disability rights advocate in Chicago with a particular interest and expertise in public & private transportation issues. From 1998 – 2006, Kevin worked at Equip for Equality (Illinois’ Protection & Advocacy system) as a Senior Advocate with dual responsibilities as EFE’s Transportation Advocate and as a member of EFE’s Training Institute. Currently, Kevin serves as a Director on the Boards of the Chicago Transit Authority and Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago.

Kevin’s commitment to the disability-rights movement developed from his life experiences as a person with multiple disabilities – He was born with Hemophilia B, a bleeding disorder, has lived with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C for over 30 years, and has had two total left knee replacements. His wife was also born with a disability and uses a wheelchair. In 2006, Kevin left EFE to serve as an at-home parent shortly after adopting their daughter, who has significant physical disabilities, including Apert Syndrome. As a volunteer, Kevin has organized and been involved with many disability groups, including Chicago ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) and Chicago’s Annual Disability Pride Parade.

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson

For nearly three decades, Mary Johnson covered the U.S. disability rights movement as editor of The Disability Rag and Ragged Edge magazine, reporting on the fight against physician-assisted suicide, including Not Dead Yet’s actions against Jack Kevorkian, Peter Singer and Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. Her articles about disability rights have appeared in The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, the Village Voice, The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review and other publications. She is the author of the book “Make Them Go Away: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve and The Case Against Disability Rights.”

Carrie Ann Lucas

Carrie Ann Lucas
Carrie Ann Lucas

Carrie Ann Lucas is the founder and executive director of the Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities in Windsor, Colorado. Ms. Lucas is an attorney who specializes in representing parents with disabilities.  Ms. Lucas consults with attorneys around the nation regarding issues affecting parents with disabilities.  She is a former Petra Foundation Fellow and Equal Justice Works Fellow. Ms. Lucas has spent over fifteen years working for disability rights organizations, and was lead plaintiff in an epic 7-and-a-half-year suit against Kmart that resulted in the largest and most far-reaching accessibility class action settlement in history.  Ms. Lucas is a power wheelchair and ventilator user due to a neuromuscular disease.  She is also an advocate for children with disabilities.  She has adopted four older children, all of whom have multiple disabilities – Heather, Asiza, Adrianne, and Anthony.

William J. Peace

William J. Peace
William J. Peace

Bill Peace earned a PhD in anthropology with distinction from Columbia University in 1992. His research interests include the history of anthropology, body art and modification, bioethics, and disability studies. He has published articles in journals such as the American Anthropologist, Journal of Anthropological Research, Counter Punch, Ragged Edge and the Hastings Center Report. He also maintains a blog badcripple.blogspot.com.

Anne Sommers

Anne Sommers
Anne Sommers

Anne Sommers is the Director of Legislative Affairs and Outreach at the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency in Washington, DC. Prior to her time at NCD, Anne served as Policy Counsel at the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). Anne graduated from the William and Mary School of Law. Prior to pursuing her law degree, Anne worked in marketing and copywriting in the health insurance industry, and prior to that, as a free-lance journalist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Anne graduated summa cum laude and received her Bachelor’s of Science degree from Virginia Tech University, where she was the Opinions Editor of the university’s award-winning student newspaper. Anne’s co-authored op-eds have been featured in the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner , and Newsday , and a paper she authored regarding wrongful life litigation earned her the distinction of Benjamin Rush Health Law Scholar in 2005. Her interests include health policy, bioethics, and powerlifting.

Robin Stephens

Robin Stephens
Robin Stephens

Robin Stephens has been part of the disability rights movement for over 30 years and even before that, as a shy child, she did her part. She has been an activist and advocate in a variety of roles including director of a teen program, manager of an independent living center, research policy analyst, in the streets as a protester and as a lawyer. She was involved in the first Not Dead Yet action and is presently Secretary of the Board.

 Mike Volkman

Mike Volkman
Mike Volkman

Mike joined Not Dead Yet at its inception in 1996. He had been on the staff of the Capital District Center for Independence in Albany, New York, and later was on the Board of Directors. He has written op-ed columns for his local newspaper, the Times Union, and remains a tireless advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

Rhonda Wiebe

Rhonda Wiebe
Rhonda Wiebe

Rhonda Wiebe has actively raised concerns about people with disabilities and their interactions with health care providers for more than two decades. Her research with the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities resulted in the publication of Our Last Rights: People with Disabilities and Do Not Resuscitate Orders and the Will to Live Workbook, an interactive tool for people with disabilities, support networks and physicians. Her research with the Vulnerable Persons New Emerging Team (Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba) investigated ethical frameworks for healthcare decision-making for people with disabilities; key to this work were publications and presentations on the perceptions medical students hold about living with disability. Rhonda is currently a policy analyst with the Disabilities Issues Office of the provincial government of Manitoba. She is co-chair of the ending of life ethics committee for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), and serves on the boards of Not Dead Yet, Toujour-Vivant Not Dead Yet Canada and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. What is most relevant to her work is the perspectives she has gained as a person who has lived with significant but invisible disabilities since the age of thirteen.

Posted in Activism, Disability Organizations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Police Violence and Disability

Listen (28 min)

DJ Quad

DJ Quad

In the consistent violent incidents between people with disabilities (often non-white) and police, the losers are almost always our disabled community members.  This week, we’ll be joined by:

Jesse (DJ Quad) Morin, a Los Angeles area DJ, performer and producer whose group 5th Battalion has produced three CDs; and

Emmitt Thrower, a producer, director, actor, playwright and videographer, who is the CEO and Founder of Wabi Sabi Productions in New York.

These two men are producing a documentary in collaboration with Leroy F. Moore Jr. about these issues.   As you can see on their website, “Where Is Hope” these are men with a lot to say about race, police actions and disability activism.

Emmitt Thrower

Emmitt Thrower

It’s not unusual for friends and family to call the police when someone with a mental disability behaves in a way they cannot cope with.  It’s not unusual that the person they are trying to help is shot and even killed. 

It’s not unusual that a deaf or autistic person is shot because they cannot understand or respond to police commands.  People with cerebral palsy are treated as drunks and homeless people who live with disabilities are double or triple at risk for police harassment.

Logo for "Where is Hope"

Logo for “Where is Hope”

How can we raise the issue of disability-related police violence without diminishing the outrage we feel at deaths which are solely race-based?  Tune in for this important discussion.

Hosted by Eddie Ytuarte and Adrienne Lauby.

CORRECTION:  In this program, Adrienne said that the San Francisco demonstrators laid on the ground for four minutes in honor of the four minutes Michael Brown laid on the ground (and 11 minutes to commemorate the 11 times Michael Brown said, “I can’t breathe.”)  Michael Brown laid on the ground for four hours before his body was taken to the morgue, not four minutes.  We apologize for this mistake.


Posted in Activism, Adrienne Lauby, Disability Justice, Eddie Ytuarte, Mental Disability, Music, Protest, Race | Tagged , , | | Leave a comment

The Disability Rights Legal Center’s Board of Directors

 The Disability Rights Legal Center’s Board of Directors is predominately non-disabled white employment defense lawyers.  They’ve built careers fighting for the Big Guys.  For a look at the history of their work as presented on their own websites, scroll down.

Disability Rights Legal Center Board of Directors (2013-2014)

Michael McDonough

Michael McDonough, President

Michael McDonough, Esq., Pillsbury Law – President
Harvey Saferstein, Esq., Mintz Levin Cohen Ferris Glovsky and Popeo P.C. – Vice President
Deborah P. Felt, Esq., Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC – Treasurer
Grant P. Alexander, Esq., DLA Piper Global Law Firm
Saralea Altman, RN, MPA, Founding Board Member
Chris Amantea, Esq., Squire Sanders (US) LLP
Robyn Bladow, Esq., Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Don Brown, Esq., Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP
Julie Capell, Esq., Winston & Strawn LLP
Gregg Dalton, Esq., Amgen Inc.
Michael A. Geibelson, Esq., Robins Kaplan LLP
Wade Gentz, Esq., Fox Group Legal
Gail A. Glick, Esq., Alexander Krakow + Glick LLP
Wilmer Harris, Esq., Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP
Christopher Heck, Esq., Wolf Rifkin Shapiro Schulman & Rabkin, LLP
Joseph Lee, Esq., Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
Richard Lopez, Esq., Starbucks Coffee Company
Neal Roberts, Esq., Roberts Law Firm
Neil M. Soltman, Esq., Mayer Brown LLP
Betty R. Wilson, M.A., CA Commission on Disability

Michael S. McDonough

Mike McDonough is a partner in Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, in the law firm’s Los Angeles Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources practice. He represents Fortune 500 companies, municipalities and private entities in complex environmental litigation, administrative and enforcement matters at the federal, state and local levels. Mr. McDonough also provides client compliance counseling on issues ranging from climate change and air quality enforcement, to soil and water quality issues, to environmental management and ISO 14001 issues.
His practice focuses on defending enforcement actions, bringing regulatory challenges, and litigating with state and federal regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, among others. He represents a range of Fortune 500 companies from a variety of industries, including energy production and importing, petroleum refining, freight transportation, consumer products, automobile manufacturing, aerospace, chemical manufacturing, and electronics manufacturing.
 Mr. McDonough participates extensively in the provision of pro bono services in the greater Los Angeles area, with a focus on matters related to special needs children. He has served as secretary on the executive board of a non-profit agency and his recent pro bono work has included winning a contested adoption matter for a 5-year-old boy improperly threatened with removal from his sixth foster home, and assisting the family of a disabled child secure tens of thousands of dollars in benefits and services from the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center.
SOURCE Pillsbury website

Harvey Saferstein

Harvard University (JD)
University of California – Berkeley (BA)
Bar Admissions  California
Harvey is the Managing Member for Mintz Levin’s Los Angeles office. His practice includes antitrust and intellectual property counseling and litigation, as well as complex commercial and business litigation.
With an extensive litigation background, Harvey has experience as trial and appellate counsel in antitrust cases and class actions within federal and state courts. In antitrust and consumer protection investigations, he has represented numerous businesses, advising them on how to comply with state and federal antitrust laws (such as the Robinson-Patman Act), consumer protection laws, and other business regulations. Additionally, Harvey has conducted compliance seminars for major corporations, performed Hart-Scott-Rodino filings in mergers and joint ventures, and offered compliance counseling for major advertisers regarding consumer protection laws, intellectual property rights, and media law. Harvey has handled a variety of patent cases in Los Angeles and San Diego federal court, including cases involving software and media patents. . . Harvey has also represented persons and companies alleged to have been involved in criminal price fixing.
SOURCE: Mintz Levin Website

Grant P. Alexander

Associate, DLA Piper law firm


Grant Alexander represents clients in a broad array of employment, business and real estate litigation matters. Grant’s representation of clients in the litigation process includes class action litigation, as well as litigation matters involving claims of discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination and complex commercial and real estate transactions, among many others, in both state and federal courts. . .
In addition to his litigation practice, Grant also advises clients on a variety of transactional matters, including the preparation and maintenance of employee handbooks and employee policies, providing advice to employers with respect to all aspects of hiring and separating individuals from their employment, and the preparation of executive employment agreements, among others.SOURCE:DLA Piper website

Chris Amantea

Partner, Squire Sanders Legal Firm
Chris Amantea serves as the managing partner of the Squire Sanders Los Angeles office. He focuses his practice on environmental, transactional and judicial proceedings as well as products liability, class action and other complex litigation. He has successfully represented clients in matters involving hazardous substances, air and water quality, land use, toxic torts and other environmental matters, including state and federal Superfund liability, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting and compliance issues, California’s Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) and hazardous waste regulatory issues.
Representative Mandate
–Defending a major oil company from allegations by Communities for a Better Environment involving more than 3,000 gasoline service station sites in California regarding alleged discharges of benzene and toluene to “sources of drinking water.” In a similar case, brought by Consumer Advocacy Group (CAG), won a motion for summary judgment in which the court ruled the CAG lawsuit was barred by the doctrine of res judicata, because of an earlier settlement and consent judgment entered in the Communities for a Better Environment case. . . –Advising companies on Proposition 65 compliance and strategy issues.


Robin Bladow

Kirkland and Ellis, LLP

Robyn Bladow is a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of the Kirkland and Ellis law firm who has handled numerous complex commercial disputes in United States and foreign courts as well as arbitration matters. She has represented and advised major corporate clients regarding contract disputes, unfair business practices and other business tort claims, consumer class actions, product liability claims, bankruptcy matters, intellectual property claims and employment disputes. Over the course of Robyn’s career, she has increasingly focused her practice on defending clients against consumer and other class actions. She has been an integral member of multiple trial and arbitration teams.

Representative Matters
Consumer and Class Actions
–Acts as national counsel for DIRECTV in its defense against various putative consumer class actions alleging false advertising and violations of consumer protection laws related to the lease of DIRECTV equipment as well as the early cancellation fees that DIRECTV assesses when customers choose not to complete their programming commitment terms. . .
–Represented Pfizer in its defense against putative statewide class action alleging false claims related to the expiration dates on Advil labels.
–Successfully moved to dismiss putative nationwide class action alleging that Pfizer violated the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law by making false claims about the health benefits of certain dietary supplements.

Pro Bono

–Led team in federal civil rights case that culminated in a two-week jury trial resulting in judgments against eight correctional officers for violating the Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment clause when they were deliberately indifferent to our client’s basic human rights.
–Won multiple successful applications and arguments for asylum by individuals who were persecuted in their home countries on account of their sexual orientation.
–Supervised bench trial, and successful appeal to the 9th Circuit, which determined that the trial court erred when it concluded that a child is not “settled” for the purposes of Article 12 of the Hague Convention for the reason that she does not have lawful immigration status.


Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP

Donald Brown handles complex commercial litigation at the regulatory, trial, and appellate levels, focusing on defending e-commerce, direct marketing, and media companies in consumer class actions and FTC investigations. Mr. Brown also has substantial litigation experience in areas such as banking and lender liability, illegal website access, online advertising, outdoor advertising, defamation, and claims involving the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

In addition, Mr. Brown advises a diverse clientele regarding compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and state disability access laws. He helps retailers, banks, media companies, property developers, lodging companies, health insurers, nonprofit foundations, educational institutions, and interactive media manufacturers address disability access issues in a variety of contexts, including stores, housing, lodging, websites, interactive media and media streaming, ATMs, kiosks, point-of-sale devices, and health plan benefits.
Mr. Brown also defends disability access lawsuits and helps clients navigate and resolve prelitigation demands and federal and state government investigations.
Julie M Cappell.  A white woman with straight hair falling over her shoulders.  She's wearing a suit jacket.

Julie M Cappell


Winston & Strawn LLP

As a partner in the Winston & Strawn law firm, Julie Capell works with companies across the country to meet their labor and employment needs. She provides strategic guidance by crafting policies and procedures that protect employers and minimize the risk of litigation. In addition, she is well versed in the unique body of employment laws and regulations that continually evolve in the state of California, as well as federal laws.

When litigation needs arise, Ms. Capell has extensive experience defending employers in disputes involving wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wage and hour class actions. Recent litigation victories include

Recent Litigation Includes:
–Obtaining a defense verdict for mogul real estate developer in a month-long disability discrimination trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.
–Negotiating a walk-away settlement for a furniture distributor in an ADA disability access case.

Ms. Capell has also represented lawyers and accountants in professional liability matters, and a non-profit organization accused of failing to reasonably accommodate test takers with alleged disabilities.


Michael A Geibelson 

Partner; Member of the Executive Board; Robins Kaplan Law Firm
Solves complex business disputes through litigation and trial.
Michael Geibelson was the Chair of the California State Bar’s Litigation Section Executive Committee (2011-2012)

He is a business Trial Lawyer experienced in the prosecution and defense of claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, business and consumer fraud and breaches of contract including real estate disputes involving leases, development and investment agreements, and joint ventures, unfair competition and false advertising, and antitrust, including individual and class claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and False Advertising Law (FAL) (Business & Professions Code §§ 17200 and 17500).

His commercial litigation has included the representation of companies in the Retail, Real Estate, and Food & Beverage industries in key industry issues including the protection of trade secrets, advertising, labeling, and interests in real property.
In addition to the handling of business litigation matters, his trial experience ranges widely, from the representation of cattle ranchers in fraud and veterinary malpractice matters, to building owners seeking to remedy welding product defects, to ship owners sued for trespass resulting from the grounding of their vessel, to organizations suing upon violations of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.


Gail A. Glick
Alexander Krakow + Glick LLP

In over fifteen years of practice, Gail Glick has successfully represented a wide variety of workers, from librarians to lawyers, salespeople to retail managers, factory workers to CEOs, in matters of employment discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation, unfair competition and wage and hour claims. Gail’s success is built on the melding of her writing acumen, her attention to detail, her mediation skills, and her warm sensitivity to the needs of each client. Accordingly, she has achieved numerous six and seven figure settlements, either through aggressive litigation up to the point of trial, or through conciliatory mediation, as the circumstances dictate.

In 2006, Gail honed her trial advocacy skills in the prestigious Trial Advocacy Project of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, in trying three criminal cases to unanimous guilty verdicts. Gail serves on the executive committee of the LACBA’s Labor and Employment Law Section, and is a member of the board of directors of the Amherst Association of Southern California. Gail is also a member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the California and National Employment Lawyers Associations, the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles and Legal Eagles for Truth, Justice and the American Way.  She frequently lectures on employment law issues and alternative dispute resolution.



Chris Heck is a general litigation partner at Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, LLP.  Prior to that, he was a partner at the Los Angeles office of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP. He focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation, antitrust, insurance coverage, trade secret and corporate governance/fiduciary liability disputes, but he also has considerable experience in tax disputes, class actions, and real estate litigation.  His clients run the gamut from a large Wall Street bank, to energy and alternative energy companies, to smaller concerns in the entertainment and new media industries, to individuals in personal injury matters, corporate dissolutions,and trust and estate disputes. Mr. Heck also counsels clients on litigation avoidance, and on business and transactional issues. He has substantial courtroom and trial experience in state and federal courts and in arbitration, and has also served as an instructor on civil and trial practice techniques for younger lawyers, including legal writing and witness preparation and examination.
Areas of Practice
Commercial Litigation
Breach of contract
Class action
Business torts
Unfair competition
Partnership and corporate dissolution
Insurance coverage and bad faith
Trade secrets
State and local tax
Antitrust and Trade Regulation
Price fixing
Resale price maintenance
Exclusive dealing
California state antitrust law


Joseph D. Lee

Joseph D. Lee is a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson. His practice focuses on complex civil litigation and white collar investigations. He has litigated a wide variety of complex litigation matters, including consumer class actions, False Claims Act litigation, securities and antitrust cases. Representative matters handled by Mr. Lee include:

–General Electric Company: Defended consumer class action alleging over-charging on office equipment leases. Defending antitrust and RICO claims in Northern District of California relating to equipment leases.
–GE Aircraft Engines:  Successfully moved to transfer to China three related wrongful death actions arising from an air crash in China.
–Costco Wholesale Corporation:  Defended a federal court shareholder derivative suit arising from allegedly misdated stock option grants.
–Verizon: Defeated class certification in federal court class action relating to Caller ID services.
–Verizon Wireless: Successfully moved to compel arbitration on individual basis of putative class action alleging over-charging.


Neil M. Soltman

Neil M. Soltman

Neil Soltman is a civil litigator for the firm of Mayer Brown.   His practice is particularly focused on complex trials and disputes. Neil has represented substantial business entities in California state and federal courts for over 30 years. He handles a wide spectrum of matters, including litigation related to the interpretation or constitutionality of statutes and related regulations; securities litigation; litigation with respect to large real estate matters, including commercial loan and lease transactions; and intellectual property litigation (including, e.g., trade secrets, copyrights and trademarks).


Board of Directors | Disability Rights Legal Center
www.disabilityrightslegalcenter.org, 15 Jan 2015 [cached]
Deborah P. Felt, Esq., Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC – Treasurer

Deborah Perfetti Felt is a senior environmental attorney for BP America Inc. and its subsidiary, Atlantic Richfield Company.Located in its Orange County, California office,she manages environmental litigation and enforcement actions affecting, and provides compliance counseling to, refining and marketing operations primarily on the West Coast.   

Her prior experience included practice in the areas of environmental and property rights law and regulatory affairs at the Southern California Edison Company.

SOURCE:  Zoominfo

Senior Counsel
Amgen Inc.,
AMGEN is a pharmaceutical
SOURCE:  Linked In


Fox Law Group

“The Fox Law Group is what we refer to as an entrepreneurial law firm with the personal care one expects from a small law firm and the ability to deliver big results. Our “value added” philosophy is inherent in every deal we do and we pride ourselves on helping our clients not only in legal transactions, but in managing their business needs.”
SOURCE:  Fox law Group website

Director, corporate counsel

Starbucks Corporation (Starbucks) purchases and roasts whole bean coffees and sells them, along with fresh, rich-brewed coffees, Italian-style espresso beverages…
Neal Roberts, Esq., Roberts Law Firm
Real Estate


Although 3/4 of  the board members appear to be corporate attorneys, there are exceptions, including civil rights attorney, Wilmer Harris, and founding members, Saralea Altman and Betty R. Wilson:

Wilmer Harris

Wilmer Harris

Wilmer Harris

In January 1994, Mr. Harris joined the Law Offices of Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. His practice area changed dramatically as he began representing clients in civil rights cases, including Reginald Denny.

In August 1995, Mr. Harris joined the firm (named Schonbrun De Simone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison in 2010) where he has concentrated primarily on the representation of employees in disputes with employers and individuals in civil rights cases.


In November 1999, Mr. Harris opened the South Pasadena office of the firm where he remains the resident partner.


Mr. Harris has garnered several settlements in excess of $1 million in civil rights cases. In July 2004, Mr. Harris secured a $1.6 million judgment (including attorney’s fees and costs) against Boeing Satellite Systems. In August 2006, Mr. Harris secured a judgment of over $1.7 million (including fees and costs).


Mr. Harris has given employment law presentations at seminars for the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the State Bar Labor & Employment Section and the American Bar Association. In February 2003, Mr. Harris was one of the speakers at the Los Angeles County Bar Association Nuts and Bolts Seminars regarding employment law. In November 2004, Mr. Harris spoke at the California State Bar Labor & Employment Section’s Annual Conference.


Mr. Harris has presented at the California Employment Lawyers Association (“CELA”) Annual Conference in September 2006 and October 2010; and at the Los Angeles County Bar Association Dinner meeting in November 15, 2006. Mr. Harris spoke at the American Bar Association Annual Conference in San Francisco in August 2007. Since joining the Labor & Employment Executive Committee, Mr. Harris regularly speaks at their Annual Conferences. Mr. Harris was one of two attorneys who summarized the developments in California employment law in 2007 at the 2008 Los Angeles County Bar Annual Symposium.


Mr. Harris has been selected as a “Southern California Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine for several years.


In 2005, Mr. Harris was selected to sit on the California State Bar Labor & Employment Executive Committee. He is currently the Chair of the State Bar Labor & Employment Section for the 2010-2011 term.


12 Nov 2010

Saralea Altman, a founder of the Disability Rights Legal Center and a member of our board of directors, was named an Outstanding Volunteer.  Saralea recently retired from California Department of Health Care Services, Audits and Investigations Division.  Saralea’s nursing career led her to the need for advocacy for people with disabilities. When her friend and mentor, A. Milton Miller died, Saralea and a few colleagues took up his work and formed the Western Law Center for the Handicapped, the precursor of the Disability Rights Legal Center.

SOURCE:  Zoominfo


Betty R. Wilson

CA Commission on Disability Access; City of LA Commission on Disability; Advisory Committee-US Commission on Civil Rights
Los Angeles, California Government Administration

Betty R. Wilson is passionate about consulting for governments, universities and private industry on issues related to human and civil rights protections, architectural and program access and cultural diversity with a specific focus on best practices for the development of inclusionary policies.  Ms. Wilson holds the distinct honor of establishing the first Department on Disability for any municipal government for the propagation of federal and state laws, and local mandates relevant to the implementation of civil rights which include disability issues and policies.  Ms. Wilson is a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights and was appointed to the California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA) by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and reappointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown (Jerry Brown).  As a State Commissioner, Ms. Wilson serves as Chair of the standing Committee on Education and Outreach for CCDA, making recommendations to the state legislature on policies and issues as well as providing training and education on behalf of the Commission to officials representing international, national and local governments, and the community at large.  

2011 ñ Present (4 years)
International Consulting and technical assistance to governments and private industry corporations relevant to compliance with the U.N. Convention on Persons with Disabilities. Recent international consultancies include, but are not limited to the following: Representatives of the Spanish Parliament in Toledo, Spain; World Assembly for Women with Disabilities Conference in Seoul, Korea; and International Conferences on Equal Rights – Equal Possibilities in Moscow, Russia. Ongoing consultation, includes, but is not limited to, equal opportunities in employment, housing, education, and tourism.
Director, City of Los Angeles Office on Disability

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Poetry and Prose by Barbara Ruth


A young Barbara Ruth, (Holding "Army of Lovers" sign) with Kathy Hogan and Paola Bacchetta at Philadelphia City Hall protest.

A young Barbara Ruth, (holding “Army of Lovers” sign) with Kathy Hogan and Paola Bacchetta at Philadelphia City Hall protest.  1975

Listen, 29 min

Barbara Ruth visits Pushing Limits with poetry and prose. Barbara Ruth is a long-time Native American, Jewish disability activist, NeuroQueer, poet, writer, musician and photographer.

Barbara Ruth’s writing travels from lush erotic images to the nitty-gritty of relationships, all seen through her sharp political lens.  She’s a woman who knows her way around words, who sprinkles the pain with laughter and opens us to new ways of looking at our lives.

With music interludes from North Coast by Nicole Milner.

Barbara Ruth

Barbara Ruth

Barbara Ruth’s work will appear in Memoir: Dispatches from Lesbian Nation in 2015 and is available in Smash the Church; Smash the State; Writings from the Early Days of Gay Liberation, edited by Tommy Aviocolli Mecca from City Lights Books.

More from Barbara Ruth:
Bar Sinistre from Postcard Poems and Prose.
White Woman, Age 53 from NeuroQueer.
Poem to Change the World from Barking Sycamores.

Produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby.  Audio editing by Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

Original Air Date: January 2, 2015


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