by Priya Penner
Every Spring and Fall, I participate in a protest through the organization called ADAPT. ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that engages in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience. The location of the protest can change, but it’s usually held in Washington D.C., like it was in this action.
This action was the first for many members from our youth group. They were unused to the early time that we had to pile onto the bus and they promptly fell asleep. I wasn’t so lucky, only able to catch an hour of sleep in the afternoon. The eight-hour bus ride yielded nothing but a sore butt and bad hair. We arrived at around 5:15, beating the luggage van. The luggage arrived about a half hour later, still giving us plenty of time to get situated in the hotel and with ADAPT.
Sunday was a day full of meetings. There was the new-persons meeting (which I did not have to go to, thank God) at 9:00. I did have to go to the Media meeting, which was happening at the same time as the new-persons meeting, so I didn’t get to sleep in too much. After that, I went to yet another meeting, called the “Teen Team” meeting. The “Teen Team” was new this year; it was a reaction to my request to join the Youth Summit that was for “youth” 18 through 30. The “Teen Team” basically “gave” us youth under 18 a bit more room to “lead.” This truly consisted of being able to hand out fliers and stand over potholes, all of which we were doing already.
Sunday afternoon was the FunRun, the fundraiser for ADAPT. We ran/rolled laps near the National Mall for a set amount of money. Or, if you preferred, you could ask for a flat donation. It lasted for a few hours. ADAPT returned to the hotel to host the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and ended the day with the heartfelt goodbye of Senator Tom Harkin, who spent over two hours reminiscing and personally speaking to many ADAPT activists.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all days of protesting.
Monday: Monday was an extremely long day. We lined up at 9:00 AM, and headed toward the L’Enfant metro station. Similar to last fall, one or two wheelchairs, perhaps three if we were lucky, were squished into the teeny elevator, and then took two metro trains to Silver Springs, Maryland. This entire process took about three hours. When we arrived at Silver Springs, we ate the lunch of champions (cold McDonald’s burgers and fries) and headed toward the target, which ended up being the American Nurses Association. In the end of March 2014, there was a local action in Albany, NY at the NYS Nurses Association, which was supposed to be a day excursion but ended up in an eight-day occupation of the Nurses Association. We occupied the Nurses Association because we wanted the Nurse Practice Act to be amended to state that attendants in the home can provide services, such as catheterization, giving medication, and routine ventilator care, in place of the nurses, and therefore allowing the person with the disability to stay in their home. National ADAPT’s protest at ANA was connected to the local NY action. We demanded the ANA talk with ADAPT to provide the modification needed also at the federal level. Unfortunately, they declined to speak with ADAPT’s leaders, and as a result we stayed well into the night, in the pouring rain. We ended the night with 35 of us being handcuffed or manually rolled away after we blocked the street. The rest of us went home to the hotel to a dinner of Subway, generously picked up by a select few.
Tuesday: Since our previous night went so late, the leaders decided to have the big meeting in the morning at the (wonderful) time of 10, to recap what had happened the night before. After the meeting, we headed over to the White House because six ADAPT members had a meeting with the President’s staff concerning a piece of legislation called the Community Integration Act (CIA). We were asking the President to support the CIA. The ADAPT members that were in the meeting thought it went well. The staff seemed open to the bill, they thought. Following the meeting, we headed to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. We were concerned that the disability movement, specifically ADAPT, hasn’t been included in the overall civil rights movement. We were there to remind the Leadership Conference that Disability Rights are Human Rights. After he met with the ADAPT leaders, the Leadership Conference’s President, Wade Henderson, came out to tell us that we did in fact have friends in the overall civil rights movement. There was a lot of pretty words on his part, but they definitely are interested in working with ADAPT. We ended the day on that successful note and headed back to the hotel.
Wednesday: The group visited the Hall of States and met with the National Governor’s Association Deputy Director of policy, David Quam. We were asking the NGA to support a resolution to delay the Department of Labor (DOL) Rules that impact personal attendants and will increase the number of people that are forced into institutions. We then divided up and headed to various senators’ offices to directly explain why were there. We were there because we wanted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to be passed. This wasn’t truly ADAPT’s issue but with our friendship with Senator Harkin, who is retiring but was a great advocate for ADAPT and the disability community, we thought it was important. After that, we headed back to the hotel to party! Wednesday night is the night we all relax and many ADAPTers decide a drink or three is a great way to do so. A DJ is brought in and the inebriated folk dance to their heart’s desire.
Thursday morning finds us tired, as we have to wake up early to put our luggage out the door of our hotel rooms to be collected. We pile onto the bus at around 7:00 and left by 8:30, arriving at around 5:00.
The spring ADAPT action was amazing. As I’m coming to expect, everyone was welcoming and friendly. I met so many new people and made so many new friends. I honestly cannot wait for the next action, where we’ll be heading all the way to Little Rock, Arkansas! You can find information on that action here.