As part of a nation-wide Day of Mourning, the William and Mary Neurodiversity Student Group held a vigil on March 1st, 2016 to honor the lives of disabled people murdered by their families and caretakers. Over 50 such murders have been reported in the United States in the last five years, over 20 in the last year alone. The total number of killings is likely higher than the amount which are reported in news media. We must address violence against people with disabilities and speak out against the dangerous cultural prejudice that says a disabled life is not worth living.
Little public attention is paid to the disabled victims of these violent acts. Media coverage and public discourse about such killings frequently justifies them as “understandable” and sometimes “merciful,” rather than appropriately condemning these crimes and those who commit them. The national Day of Mourning is a time for the disability community to commemorate the many lives cut short. By honoring disabled victims of murder and celebrating the lives that they lived, these vigils send a message that disability is not a justification for violence.
The vigil occured on Tuesday, March 1st at 6:30pm at the Crim Dell Amphitheater and featured a reading of the names and several speeches to honor the lives of disabled people who have been murdered.
Vigils for the Disability Day of Mourning occurs yearly and the Neurodiversity Student Group hopes to continue to hold vigils in future years.