I asked myself that question while I was at the state-wide video hearing last Friday about the Gov Cuomo’s proposal to create a new P&A system. From the Metro area, The Citywide Mental Health Project were the only ones there. More than shocked or upset, I was saddened by the lack of interest in our community and the public at large on the issue of abuses perpetrated on people with disabilities.
You would have thought that, after all the brouhaha about abuses and the gun control laws that promise to curtail the few rights we have left, after all those state reports about privatizing the functions of our government, which will make abuses a mere ‘collateral damage’ that comes with the imperative to make profit, you would have thought that after all that there would be a long line to get inside the conference room. Nope.
The situation I described was the same in other state counties: few brave souls showed up to speak up their minds. Many were able to articulate their lack of hope in the ability and willingness of this new system to protect people with disabilities. DIA was there, in another county; some people with developmental disabilities stood up to speak up for themselves. The father of a son who was killed in one of this institutions was there. I wish I could speak to him; his comment was stripped of pleasantries and went to the root of the matter. His statements were very much what we at the Citywide have been saying about how the system is failing us.
Where is our community? It seems that our community and the society at large trust that the Governor, because he is a democrat, is doing everything right to help us.
Anyone who knows about politics knows that ‘trust’ in politicians is like trusting ice will keep your water cool for a long time. (Think about simile.)
Even if I grant good-will in the intentions behind this new P&A system, politicians make (GULP) mistakes. And one thing is the INTENTION behind the policy, another is the IMPLEMENTATION.
We are still here, the Citywide, trying to keep the issue in the open. The discussion of abuses is TABOO in our mental health system; we need to break that taboo.
Waiting for a miracle will not change things. We need to stand up and start speaking about this issue.
And if you are happy and have not experience abuses and mistreatment then, let those who have and want to denounce the abuses in the system do their work.
We can’t continue to cry ‘foul’ every time some story of abuse is published in our mainstream media and then go back to our state’s ‘councils’ where nothing is done about anything without the consent of OMH or the city.
Organizing to secure funds for programs is a priority, but so is our lives and mental health.
We need to organize to make the system SAFE for us. It will not happen by magic.