|Book Cover: In Search of Freedom|
Below is a copy of a message left on the Obama/Biden People With Disabilities Dashboard message board. I will not post her name because I have not spoke with her directly, but this is horrendous! It is so hard to read this and usually I would apologize for the length of a post, but this time I refuse to do so. It is important that you hear the anguish of this woman, someone who has volunteered her time and given unselfishly to this campaign. Also, I will not shorten it, because I hear it over and over again; how someone with a disabilities is disrespected and treated so hatefully. And in this case, by team members of the Democratic Party, who were supposed to represent the most "open and accessible" administration in history.
I am appalled at her treatment, and I ask the people of Florida and this campaign office to answer to these allegations! I ask you to apologize to the people along with this woman who were treated this way. I demand that someone with a disability or proper disability training be a part of future event planning and logistics. And, this office owes all those people an apology!
Just last week, I got the chance to meet with Patrick Kennedy during the Disability Caucus at the DNC in Charlotte, NC, and he talked about how the Disability Vote was growing and how important it was to this election. If you are going to represent the President, represent him right...to everyone!
Message on People with Disabilities Obama/Biden DASHBOARD Message Board ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am a Data Captain, Team Member for X19 Clearwater, FL. Campaign Office. I was so thankful to the staff at the office when they gave me 2 extra tickets so I could take my 2 teenage boys to the speech with me. I was told BLUE meant I had (Priority Tickets) It was supposed to have been a very exciting, chance of a lifetime that my boys could tell their future grandchildren about. Instead it was a horrifying disaster for them and for me. Single, Disabled Mother of Two, Full-Time Student.
I have volunteered almost all of my free time to the campaign. Sometimes 12 hours a day.
The planners for these events do not seem to consider or think about the obstacles and or limitations of the handicap. They did not designate parking for the handicap at the charter bus area. I and other handicap in wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches had to walk all the way around a very large shopping mall to get to where the buses were picking up the attendee's. Walking that alone was very painful and I struggled. Then we had to STAND and wait for the special (handicap accessible) bus to come. That may be fine for people in wheelchairs. It was not fine for people like ME. Anyone with a cane, walker, crutches, were struggling to stand. Once we finally got on the bus. The trip was fast and easy. We all thought the hardest part was behind us. We were very wrong!
Once we were off the bus we were told where to go by what colors our tickets were. My tickets were blue. I was being directed towards a very long line. Up and over curbs! Curbs! How are people with wheelchairs and walkers supposed to be able to handle this if they don’t have anyone with them to help? There were plenty of volunteers! But, not one of them was willing to help any of the handicaps through this “impossible obstacle course” we had to go through to get to the back of the line. This line seemed to have more people without a handicap that people that did.
I was in pain and really struggling to get to the back of the line. I found a fellow volunteer in the line and asked him if my kids and I could cut in line with them. I was verbally and almost physically attacked by a non-handicap older female in the line screaming “ Line Cutter!” I was then being screamed at by the entire crowd around me. So I got moving toward the back of the line which was so far away. I needed to go through hilly grass, more curbs, as I am trying to get to the back of the line. More buses are dropping off more Non-handicaps who can move much faster than I can. So the back of the line was continuing to become further and further away. I couldn’t take anymore I needed to rest.
I saw a volunteer I knew from my Clearwater office. I told them I needed help! She went down the line to find someone she knew to see if they minded us cutting in line with them. She did! I was able to get a chair to sit on. We were in line for over 2 hours. How are the handicap/elderly, which can’t stand or walk at all or for very long supposed to handle this? Some handicap didn’t! They left in ambulances because of the whole ordeal!
It was hot and they were passing out water. I can’t drink the water! I am in line and have no access to a handicap bathroom! Since it took 2 hours for each handicap person to get inside, I am glad I didn’t drink anything!
Now I am inside but they are still directing the handicap up impossible curbs and grassy hills! My knees and legs are shaking like wet noodles. I can barely keep standing never mind walking up the hill.
I am now crying trying to struggle and not make a scene. I don’t want to worry or embarrass myself or my children. After a few moments I fell to the ground. My legs couldn’t carry my weight anymore. I sat on the grass trying to figure out how I was going to make it the rest of the way. After about 20 minutes a golf cart came by and asked if I needed help. I thought to myself. This is a godsend for me BUT! What about the other handicap and elderly? He put my walker in the back and brought me to the handicap section of the event. I thought…. Finally the worst is over! But, when I looked around the handicap section, I felt so let down.
The scene was like something from the 1960’s. I imagined that this is where the Black’s would have been seated, hidden, out of the way as not to be seen by cameras. Behind a line of trees and bushes that made it impossible to see the podium where the president would speak. I felt insulted.
I felt like a second class citizen. Planners had placed plywood on the grass to make sure the wheelchairs and walkers etc. would have a flat surface. The handicap section was over crowded with non-handicap people. So the area of plywood was all taken by the time I got there. They gave us folding chairs but, they ran out of them quickly and asked the non-handicap people to please give up their chairs for the handicap and elderly.
Most refused saying they deserve better than to sit on the ground. Doesn’t the handicap and elderly deserve better as well? I was given a chair that if I had sat in it the legs of the chair would just go all the way into the ground. Instead, I sat on my walker and gave the chair to my children to take turns sitting on. One child sitting on the wet ground, the other in a chair that’s legs were half in the ground. Looking around at this area was disgraceful. We all talked about how this could be possible in this day and age. Especially from someone who is looking for our vote. Some of the crowd knew I was a Team Member. We couldn’t believe their volunteers and supporters were being treated so horribly. It was a very depressing sight!
I sat there waiting for the event to begin. I had to time 5 minutes for my teenagers to take turns on the chair so they didn’t fight about it. I then saw one of my Field Organizers in a blocked off area. I walked over there to try to yell to her to come to the fence line to speak with me. I explained to her the insufficient and deplorable situation. She apologized and tried to explain why we were segregated from the rest of the public. She didn’t say anything that justified the placement or treatment we were enduring. I told her that I didn’t work hard for the campaign to be treated like trash. If the campaign thinks it’s ok to treat people like this they do not only lose the support I have been giving them but they will lose my vote.
I walked back to the handicap area, I looked toward the podium and realized not only could we not see the president. If the trees weren’t there we would still only see the back of the president’s head!
As I timed the 5 minutes for my kids, someone was speaking at the podium but none of us could hear what they were saying. We began to yell. “We Can’t Hear You!” But it seemed useless. We asked the volunteers to let them know we couldn’t hear. We were actually told to “Shut Up!” by two different volunteers assigned to the area.
The way I saw these volunteers treat the elderly and handicap was deplorable! Our section that was closed off visually from the event also couldn’t hear the event either. We all sat there disgusted! Who planned this event? Who thought so less of us that they thought this kind of treatment to the disabled were acceptable? I sent my son to go in front of the trees with my camera. He came back saying a lady grabbed his phone, closed it and handed it back to him and told him to go sit back down in a very mean way. I was beyond angry! You treat me like trash and you now dare to treat my son that way? We can’t see or hear the President. You won’t even allow us to take pictures like the other guests? At one point my other son worked his way past the trees and got a few pictures. The elderly and other handicap were now begging my son to take their phones and video cameras down there so he could take pictures for them! I felt so sad for all of them that I began to cry. Why were we being treated like we are trash? Why are we not equal to the rest of the guests? My son did his best to take as many pictures has he could for the other handicap while being screamed at by the volunteers to go back to his place. (His Place) as in the hidden section! It was awful!
I tried to text anyone I knew at the Clearwater office. 2 Field Officers to let them know we couldn’t hear the people speaking. It was no use I didn’t receive a reply to 1 the other, not until after the event. We all just gave up and just sat there talking amongst ourselves at what a sad situation this was. Many of them came to this event full supporters of the President but, left with mental and emotional scars that the Man they supported did not treat them as equals as he has said in many speeches and policies. We were obviously 2nd class. We left knowing we were now NOT voting for Obama. How could we when we were just treated so horrendously.
We then had to fight to receive the free” FORWARD” signs that were being handed out. Yet another insult to us, it seemed we didn’t deserve those either. We at this point all felt so defeated that we just didn’t have enough energy or self-worth to try to fight another battle. We were all trying to prepare for the impossible struggle of the obstacle course again to get to the bus’s and then walking that far walk to our cars.
The speech is now over, we didn’t hear a word Obama said. I tell my kids we will sit and wait a while and not try to fight through the huge crowds. I sat there trying to prepare myself and my legs for this horrible journey to the buses.
I ran into a Field Organizer from my office. She had obviously heard what I had said to the other Organizer earlier. She tried to apologize that I had a bad experience. I tried to explain it wasn’t just me! It was how they treated all of us as a group! I told her a handicap person needs to be part of the planning process for these events! It seems that only a handicap person can see the obstacles and struggles that healthy people obviously DO NOT SEE!
She asked me to wait a moment so she could find a golf cart to take me the rest of the way to the buses. I waited for 10 minutes and they still couldn’t find one so I said never mind and I walked away. I then ran into my Field Organizer for my Team. When I turned around I could see that the other Field Organizer was following me. I told My Org, that She wants to talk to him and I walked past him. I began crying, so hurt I was treated this way. How could they treat me this way after the hours of work I put into the campaign? As I walked up a bit of a hill I could feel my tendon clinch and I couldn’t put any wait on it anymore. I was in so much pain and had so much further to walk to those buses. I had to make it there! I was about to collapse! I sat on my walker in the middle of the parking lot. My children having to see me like this was very traumatic for me and for the. They were worried how they were going to get their mother to the buses then to the car to drive them home. My children were traumatized!!! They will never be the same! I won’t either but, for different reasons.
After about 20 minutes a golf cart came along and they had to almost lift me into the cart. My legs had nothing left in them to get me anywhere. I got off the cart the rest of the elderly and handicap waited in the sun for about 45 minutes waiting for a handicap accessible bus to come. I sat there embarrassed balling my eyes out. Everyone was asking me if I’m ok. Well…… everyone except the actual volunteers and bus drivers. When a bus finally came everyone was asking if we could get me on the bus right away. They told them no, that it was wheelchairs first etc. The people in the wheelchairs started yelling and swearing at the volunteers to GET AMIEE ON THE FUZCKING BUS! They fought and fought them. Finally they got me on the bus. I sat there in the bus seat crying and crying. They were filling the bus. My children telling them that their mom is on the bus and they need to get on this one. They were told it was only for the handicap. The Bus driver got in his seat and was closing the door. I got up from the seat yelling and screaming about my children and telling them if they don’t let my children on to get me off!
I then fell in the bus isle and down part of the stairs. That is when he finally let my 2 children on the bus.
When we got off the bus Members of the Largo Office, Diane and Milly, told me to stay there, they would get their car, pick us up and take me to my car so I wouldn’t have to walk to it. What wonderful people Diane and Milly are! Thank you again!
No apology is enough for the trauma and deplorable treatment I went thru on Aug 8,2012. I can’t continue to support a campaign that treats the disabled and elderly in this way.
WE ARE NOT 2ND CLASS! WE DESERVE TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT! NO CONSIDERATION WAS GIVEN TO OUR LIMITATIONS ETC. I DIDN’T DONATE HRS AND HRS OF MY TIME TO BE THEN TREATED LIKE TRASH! NO HUMAN BEING SHOULD BE TREATED HOW WE WERE! SET ASIDE, HIDDEN AWAY, NOT TO BE SEEN. HORRENDOUS!