Action Alert: Disability Policy Call-ins on COVID Relief and Police Violence

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Thirty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are still struggling to build a world in which all people with disabilities can live safely and freely in our communities. Some of our community members are facing dangerous losses to their home- and community-based services, leaving many at risk of being forced into institutions, where COVID-19 outbreaks are surging. Disabled people of color, especially Black disabled people, face high rates of police violence that current policies have failed to address. Both of these issues are matters of life and death for people with disabilities, which is why ASAN will be hosting call-ins every Wednesday on COVID-19 relief and police violence. Sign up at our Facebook page here, and get ready to call your Senators!

The current Justice in Policing Act needs to be strengthened to provide better protections against police violence. The bill must end the use of School Resource Officers, who disproportionately harm disabled students and students of color. While the bill would eliminate qualified immunity for police officers, we believe it should also eliminate qualified immunity for all other government employees who violate civil rights, such as correctional officers. And the bill should significantly reduce the resources used to support police violence, instead of increasing federal funding of police departments. For more information on necessary changes to the Justice in Policing Act, see the Leadership Conference’s letter to Congress, on which ASAN is a signatory.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been calling on our Senators to protect the disability community and pass a COVID-19 relief bill that includes emergency funding for home- and community-based services (HCBS). Now, we are hearing that the upcoming Senate bill will not include funding for HCBS. This is incredibly dangerous for members of our community who rely on these services to live their daily lives in the safety of their own homes and neighborhoods. Without this funding, many may be forced into institutions, where COVID-19 is spreading uncontrolled. We can’t let this happen. 

Find contact information for your two Senators using this link. Then, use our scripts to call their offices and let them know what you think. You can use one script at a time, or combine them to discuss both issues in one call:

Home and Community-Based Services Funding
My name is [your full name], and I am from [city]. I’m [calling/writing] to ask Senator [Name] to make sure that the Senate’s coronavirus relief package includes Medicaid funding for home- and community-based services for people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities rely on home- and community-based services to do things like get dressed, take care of our families, and live safely in our homes. Without emergency funding, agencies that provide these supports are starting to close. People with disabilities risk being forced into institutions, where they would be at much greater risk of catching COVID-19. 

We need the Senate to pass a COVID relief package that specifically funds home- and community-based services. This is a matter of life or death for my community. Can I count on the Senator’s support? 

Justice in Policing Act
My name is [your full name], and I am from [city]. I’m calling to ask Senator [Name] to pass and strengthen the Justice in Policing Act. The Justice in Policing Act is very important to my community, because people with disabilities, especially people of color with disabilities, are often victims of police violence. I’m asking Senator [Name] to support the House-passed Justice in Policing Act bill, and to strengthen it by making critical changes. These include eliminating School Resource Officers, fully banning military equipment, and widening the repeal of qualified immunity, along with other changes recommended by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. This is a life-and-death issue for people with disabilities in our state. Can I count on the Senator’s support?

Have call anxiety, or wondering what to expect from a call to your elected officials? Check out this guide to making a call to your members of Congress. Unable to speak on a phone call due to a disability? Check out our Proxy Calling System here. Want to help someone else make a call? Consider signing up to be a proxy caller.

After you’ve called in, let us know how it went on our Facebook event.

Living safely in our communities is a civil right — let’s tell our Senators that when it comes to keeping us all safe, we refuse to leave anyone behind.