Please ACT NOW! See Below.
People with disabilities tell court: Health care, not police killings
A case before U.S. Supreme Court seeking police exemption from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has critical importance for all those seeking to stop unwarranted police killings. This case involves police shootings of people with mental illnesses. Your intervention is needed to stop the high court from using this case to strengthen the hand of the police and lessen police accountability in the killings of people with disabilities. The ADA mandates accommodations for those with disabilities.
Even with the ADA in place, at least half of the people shot and killed by police each year in this country have mental health problems, according to a recent study (TACReports.org). In many cases, police who used deadly force were called by family or neighbors to help get an individual mental health care. Many of those killed were people of color. It would be especially chilling if police are exempted from the ADA.
Oral arguments in the case Sheehan v. San Francisco, brought before the Supreme Court by the city of San Francisco, are set for March 23. More than 40 civil rights and disability activist groups have signed a letter urging San Francisco officials to drop the appeal, warning that it imperils the ADA, the most important piece of protective legislation that people with disabilities have. They ask that concerned people join this write-in campaign.
Please join this crucial effort. Sign the letter below and e-mail it to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and City Attorney Dennis Herrera to urge them to drop their appeal. The Americans with Disabilities Act needs to be expanded and enforced, not gutted. Having a disability must not be a death sentence!
The letter begins here:
Ed Lee, Mayor, City and County of San Francisco
City Hall, 1 Doctor Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200
San Francisco, CA 94102
City Attorney, City and County of San Francisco
City Hall, 1 Doctor Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 234
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dear Mayor Lee and City Attorney Herrera:
I/we join more than 42 civil rights and disability rights groups and many progressive individuals in urging you to withdraw your appeal in the case of City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. Your appeal could result in the Supreme Court exempting police from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the most comprehensive civil rights law for individuals with disabilities. Your appeal puts the ADA at risk, and could lead to an increase in unwarranted police killings of people with disabilities.
People with disabilities need the ADA’s protections when they encounter law enforcement. A 2013 study by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sherriff’s Association revealed that at least half of the people shot and killed by police are people with mental disabilities. Many times these police had been called to help a person in psychiatric crisis. Often police who are first on the scene quickly respond with deadly force, without waiting for a unit specially trained to deal with people with disabilities to arrive.
In San Francisco, the figures are even higher. A local review of 51 San Francisco police involved shootings between 2005 and 2013 found that 58% of the 19 shootings of people killed by police had a psychiatric disability.
People with many types of disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, emotional disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy and deafness, face dangerous and often deadly consequences when law enforcement officials fail to honor the ADA.
The ADA needs to be expanded and honored, especially when it comes to encounters with police. Having a disability must not be a death sentence!
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