For disability rights

From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters

Chicago—On May 26, a group of 14 people from Chicago ADAPT went to Springfield, Ill., to push for the passage of House Bill #349 whose purpose is to make the 5% temporary personal income tax in Illinois permanent. Without that happening, we face huge cuts in home services for the disabled and elderly and other social services. Home healthcare hours could be drastically cut and personal assistants, who work with the disabled, risk losing our jobs.

We met with people from the Service Employees International Union and other groups who came to join the fight. While some visited their legislators to push for passage of the bill, many of us attended and disrupted several budget meetings the House was having. We demanded that they talk about the bill, and when they refused, we started chanting and refused to leave.

At one point, a small group of us pushed our way into the Governor’s office and were met by the Capitol Police with their dogs. When we still refused to leave, they finally sent someone from the Governor’s office to talk to us. 

We handed out thousands of leaflets asking people to support the bill and talked to people about why we were there. We demonstrated inside until closing time and then some of us refused to leave. Eight people were arrested, but were let go shortly after. The Capitol Police admitted they didn’t know what to do with the ones who were arrested, especially those in wheelchairs.

After a candlelight vigil outside the Capitol the next day, we found that the bill did not pass. Instead, the house voted in a budget that includes $70 million in cuts to home services. Some people went back the next day to try and convince the Senate to not pass the budget bill.

I had an opportunity to talk about how, under capitalism, we have lost—and will continue to lose—the gains we have fought for so hard in the Disability Rights Movement, as we have in the Women’s Liberation Movement and other battles for social change. Depending on reforms and the government to make the changes we need is ultimately a losing battle under capitalism and we need something else to insure that the new world we are fighting for becomes a reality.

–S.R.

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