posted on Thursday, September 4th, 2014

DJ PalestineSins Invalid is a disability justice-based performance project centering disabled artists of color and queer / gender non-conforming disabled artists. Our work celebrates the embodied humanity of disabled people, and we understand all bodies live in a multitude of very real social, political, economic and cultural contexts.

As an organization led by disabled people of color and queer / gender non-conforming people with disabilities, we live with high rates of state violence, from forced institutionalization, to ongoing police brutality and the murder of Black and brown disabled people.

We witness the horror of a deadly chokehold placed on Eric Garner, a Black man with multiple disabilities, by the NYPD.  We hear the cries of Ezell Ford’s mother when she realized that her son with mental health disability was shot by LAPD while walking home.  We stand with Lashonn White, a Deaf queer Black woman who was running toward police for safety, and instead tased by police and jailed for three days without access to an interpreter.  We feel rage with the family of Kajieme Powell, a Black man with a mental health impairment, who was shot by St. Louis police within seconds of their arrival, for stealing two sodas and a package of pastries.

We know that modern day police forces are direct descendants of the “slave patrols” employed to police and control the bodies and labor of enslaved African people and violently repress their resistance to slavery. We recognize that Black and brown people with disabilities are pipelined from “special education” to incarceration of one form or another.

We acknowledge that disabled people who are Autistic, who are Deaf, who live with mental health impairments, or cognitive impairments, epilepsy or movement disorders, are at highest risk of being assaulted by police, and that this is deeply compounded when we are further marginalized by homelessness, transphobia, and white supremacy.

We do not see training as a viable solution, since it leaves intact the fundamental belief of the police that their purpose is to “control the situation.”  As people with disabilities, our bodies and minds are not controllable and cannot always comply — this must be understood.  Our bodies and minds are not criminal.  We are unique and we celebrate our complexities.

We strongly oppose Urban Shield and all programs that seek to militarize police departments through paramilitary training and military equipment, as they serve to further dehumanize communities of color and poor and working class communities as “domestic enemies.”  Increased militarization of the police leads directly to increased police violence, particularly against disabled people of color.

We grieve that people with disabilities have largely been ignored and dismissed as key leaders in resistance to state violence by the US Left, perpetuating the silencing of our stories and maintaining barriers to a united front.

It is within the context of disability justice that WE SUPPORT JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL BROWN of Ferguson, Missouri.  It is within the context of disability justice that WE OPPOSE URBAN SHIELD.  It is within the context of disability justice that we hold true that ALL COMMUNITIES ARE VALUABLE.


  1. Vincent Lee Smith

    Thank you for your strong stance on the value of people of color in this country. It means more than you know. One day we won’t see color we’ll see human beings. We have to work toward that day by changing our inability to see racism as a disability. A disability we can all do without. Thanks again for your courage in standing for what is right.

  2. Alisha Vasquez

    FUCK YEAH!!!!

  3. Barbara Ruth

    This is really wonderful. I do wish you had said “We support people who are Deaf, who are Autistic,” etc. as opposed to “people with autism” as this is so clearly the preference of the majority of Autistic organizations. See ASAN, and Neuroqueer and many more. But I embrace the entirety of the scope and the context you show within this statement.

  4. David Mitchell

    Disabled youth are 4-5 times more likely to enter the juvenile justice system than non-disabled youth. Disabled youth of color make up a disproportionate share of this disproportionate tendency. Thanks so much for taking this strong stand against the criminalization of disabled youth and for celebrating the pleuri-potency of non-normative being.

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