Friday, July 19, 2013

AFA Rally Part 1

Ruthie Jordan shares the events that took place on July 18, 2013 at the Omni and the AFA rallies at the AG Bell Symposium.  Text summary below the video box.  To see schedule of events to July 19 and 20 go to

Ruthie Jordan explains that in walking through Omni hotel to find the restaurant & bar, Judy Harrison, AG Bell Program director, called Omni hotel security on her.  Security and Judy Harrison proceeded to follow and surveillance Ruthie as she sat peacefully having a drink in the Omni cafe.  Security spoke at Ruthie without any attempt to make their words accessible until Ruthie requested they get an interpreter or write.  They returned with Judy H. and an interpreter.  Security questioned her numerous times if she had a room in the Omni.  Each time Ruthie assured them she did and was just waiting for the 3 pm check in time.  (Note: Ruthie had already asked the Cafe server if non-Omni hotel guests could patron the Cafe which is situated as part of the Omni hotel and the Plaza space and the Cafe rep. said yes.)  Finally security, Judy H and the interpreter left Ruthie to enjoy her drink in peace.  She checked into her room at 3 pm and then met Deaf rally folks with open arms and hugs before the 5 pm Rally.

Ruthie reports that the rally went beautifully with some KODAs signing ASL IS A GIFT, Jon Savage sharing a poem, John Maucere performing and leading a chant, Guy Wonder giving a wonderful message and more.  People created signs and posters.  There police cars had arrived and Ruthie checked in with them ensuring that AFA was aware of the rules in using the public sidewalks - no obstructing of traffic and being peaceful. 

At one point the hotel manager had come out and even sent out staff to try to block AFA ralliers away from people exiting the hotel.  The managers behavior was reminiscent of the Marriot Hotel manager at the first AG Bell protest in VA hosted by DBC in 2009.  At one point the hotel security came out with Judy Harrison, AG Bell Program director, and she proceeded to try to interpret for the security.  Ruthie made it clear that there were ASL certified and qualified interpreters at the rally and at no point should the security or police utilize AG Bell staff members as interpreters.  The peaceful protest is a direct confrontation to illuminate the truths of AG Bell's conduct and practices and for security or the police to use an uncertified staff member of AG Bell Association to interpreter what Deaf ASL people are signing to the police or security opens things up for the Deaf peaceful protestors words to be twisted or misunderstood.  Ruthie explained to Judy Harrison that it is not right for her to take up this role of being "interpreter."  Ruthie also explained to the hotel manager and security that their treatment of Deaf ASL people - speaking at them or pulling at them - is not acceptable as we are not animals and should be treated as humans.  They simply either need to get an ASL interpreter or write.  She asked what they would do to insure no further mishaps take place the next day and they said they would be posting notes of what areas are restricted to AG Bell conference registrants only and will not be physical but rather write or get an interpreter if needed.

As the hotel manager and security walked away the police asked the hotel manager why she was behaving in the manner that she was - sending out staff to control people's movement out on the sidewalk and approaching the protestors outside etc.  She evasively said she was just doing her job and wasnt in favor of AG Bell or anything but just doing her job.  The police officer explained that it is THEIR - the Police - job to make sure traffic is not obstructed on the side walk and everything is in order at the rally - it is NOT the hotel or security's job. 

Ruthie gives her heartfelt appreciation to all the people who attended the rally, performed, made signs, stood and for all the members of our community who took pictures signing STAND or other artwork and posted them online in solidarity.  Ruthie explains AFA's commitment to PEACE and Justice and that is the strongest thing in the world.  She explains todays schedule of morning rally at Advanced bionic, afternoon at House Ear Institute, and evening vigil at John Tracy Clinic where candles will be lit for all the survivors of Oralism and cochlear implants.  We will also light a candle for John T. Williams, Native American Deaf woodcarver who was killed by a cop and for Trayvon Martin in solidarity with all injustice. 

Ruthie concludes with a message of gratitude, inspiration, peace and love as we STAND against audism.

Let Freedom Roll