Sunday, September 19, 2010

AFA endorses Deaf & Native community

AFA is concerned and would like to share sad news from Seattle, Washington. A Deaf Native American, John T Williams (see photo)recently passed away. This is what happened: A cop saw him carrying a knife and yelled at John to drop the knife three times. Then, the cop shot him 4 times in the chest. John died instantly from the shooting on the street. We, AFA truly grieve for his brothers, family members, friends, Deaf Native Community members, and our Deaf community. We have also signed the petition protesting this incident and endorsing their call for a rally asking the Seattle Mayor and city officials to investigate this truly horrific tragedy.


This deadly incident never should have happened to John T Williams.The cop could have used other means to confront him such as using a taser, sign language or gestures--but instead they responded making a flawed assumption, shooting a Deaf man 4 times. Imagine: John T. Williams was only about 10 feet away and yet he was shot 4 times. That was a deadly decision that was truly sad. We encourage Deaf community members and all others to sign the petition to support calling for an investigation of that incident. There are a number of good reasons for us to take action to sign this petition. For many years, we, Deaf people have been seen, experienced, and been aware of events such as this one. We know that there have been many incidences and issues of concern with police officers. Sometimes, the police are involved with misunderstandings, some have demonstrated jumping to conclusions, some have made serious errors in decision making, and approached Deaf people in dangerous ways. As a result, Deaf people are at risk for being shot--leading to injuries or death; Deaf people have told stories of being pulled over and needing to deal with miscommunication with the police; police have responded with violent actions when Deaf people have simply been trying to use sign language to communicate; in addition to many other situations where Deaf people's safety is at risk. Its been reported that innocent Deaf people have been killed, injured or arrested by the police. There are also some issues related to AUDISM and police officers demonstrating this attitude. It has occurred repeatedly in our life time and it will even today in the year 2010, it is still happening...

(Sigh)We (Deaf community members) are very concerned and recommend to tap all of you to wake up, to roll up your sleeves along with us to take action challenging the legal system such as the police to educate them about Deaf people, encourage them to learn sign language and Deaf culture, and learn how to deal with us appropriately. Learning some sign language, the officers could communicate with Deaf people when they are pulled over such as asking for driver's licenses, telling them to slow down, warning them not to use a knife or gun, or anything related to safety and other issues. We also encourage you to contact the mayor of your town to check on how the police are trained to handle Deaf people and other relevant issues. The mayor could change and improve the criminal justice system for our Deaf community including Deaf people with Low vision/Blind and Deaf people of color, and other minority groups.
Because we value the diversity in our Deaf community, we need to work to ensure our safety. Some Deaf people STILL feel paranoid and scared around police officers because they know that police officers could easily decide to take action against an innocent citizen that could result in shooting death or injury. The police do have a job to do and in that job they have the POWER to decide to violate the rights of people which can lead to the loss of life. AFA values you all and encourages you all to take action to cause a ripple effect in the community so that incidents such as what happened to John T. Williams will not happen again in our life times. This must STOP. Deaf people have died in incidents such as this... We value the Deaf community, all of you...

Audism Free America