Category Archives: violence
“There’s a suggestion that you were rolling towards the police in your wheelchair”: BBC Interviews Jody McIntyre About His Assault By London Metropolitan Police Officers
I would like you to take a moment to imagine the look on my face when I realised that the BBC interviewer in the following clip (transcript below) actually asked Jody McIntyre, a 20 year old man who uses a wheelchair and has cerebral palsy, whether or not the fact that Jody is a “revolutionary” is reason enough for the police to have assaulted him twice during the London riots last week. The following interview is full of similar gems, including a rather pointed “appear to show” what the actual footage shows.
I want to salute Joey for his calm yet firm responses throughout the interview.
BBC Jody McIntyre interview
[This is an interview conducted by
an unidentified male BBC reporterBen Brown with Jody McIntyre, a man with Cerebral Palsy who was pulled by police officers from his wheelchair during the recent protests against tuition fee increases in the UK. There is repeated footage of McIntyre being pulled from his chair, which was being pushed by his brother. The footage shows multiple London police officers pulling McIntyre from his chair and dragging him across the pavement and away from his brother and his chair while outraged bystanders shout in horror at what they’re seeing. The clip shown is a cleaned up and enhanced version of the clip that went up on YouTube – the original is full of a lot of cursing and screaming from bystanders which has been edited out by the BBC.]
Interviewer: Pictures of a disabled man being dragged from his wheelchair by police officers during the protests in London over the tuition fees have emerged online. Now these pictures appear to show Jody McIntyre, 20 year old fiscal activist and blogger who suffers from cerebral palsy being pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the road to the pavement. While the Metropolitan Police have released this statement on that incident, saying
In connection with the incident shown on YouTube of of a tuition fees protestor in a wheelchair the Metropolitan Police confirm that the man involved, Jody McIntyre, has not launched an official complaint. The issue has been referred by the Metropolitan Police to the Directorate of Professional Standards and the Met Police say they will contact Jody McIntyre directly.
That is the statement from the police that we’ve received, and we can speak to Jody McIntyre now whose in our Westminster Studio.
Interviewer: Good evening to you.
Jody (JM): Good Evening.
Interviewer: Could you just explain what happened to you?
JM: Well, during the demonstration I was attacked by and pulled out of my wheelchair by the police on two occasions. The footage you have just shown is of a second incident. One of the police men who had dragged me down the road in the first incident obviously recognized me, came running over, pushed me out of my wheelchair on to the road, and then dragged me across the road.
Interviewer: The police say you haven’t made any kind of complaint, so why not?
JM: I haven’t made a complaint yet but I’m in contact with a lawyer and I will be doing so.
Interviewer: It’s been a few days since this happened. Why haven’t you complained before?
JM: Because I wanted to consider my options before taking that step.
Interviewer: There’s a suggestion that you were rolling towards the police in your wheelchair. Is that true?
JM: I think justifying a police officer pulling a disabled person out of a wheelchair and dragging them across a concrete road is quite ridiculous and I’m surprised that you’ve just tried to do so.
Interview: So that’s not true, you were not wheeling yourself towards the police.
JM: Well I can’t physically use my wheelchair myself. My brother was pushing me. I think it’s quite obvious from the footage that I was 100% not a threat to anyone.
Interviewer: In the Observer newspaper you were described as a cyber radical and you were quoted as saying you want to build a revolutionary movement and that can only happen through direct action on the streets. Do you classify yourself as a revolutionary? [Anna: I think this is the article he’s referring to]
JM: I don’t classifying myself as anything but I think we all have a right to fight against what the government are trying to do. They’re trying to tier education system whereby only the rich will be able to afford it. That is something that I think we should all be fighting against.
Interviewer: Now the police have said that they have referred this incident to the Directorate of Professional Standards… what’s your reaction to that?
JM: I don’t have a reaction to that but I will be making a complaint in the near future. I would say that it’s very important not to see this as an isolated incident. This is the police’s role at demonstrations. To incite and provoke violence. They’ve done it in the past and they’re continuing to do it now. I am not the real victim here. The real victims are the students, like Alfie Meadows, who is in hospital within an inch of his life after a policeman struck him on the head with a truncheon and he needed emergency brain surgery. Now imagine if it was Prince Charles, or Camilla, or a police officer who had been within an inch of their life.
Interviewer: But I have to say, I was in Parliament Square covering that demonstration and I saw protesters throwing lumps of rock at the police, throwing missiles, various missiles, at the police. Were you throwing anything at all at the police that day?
JM: I wasn’t throwing anything at the police during that day or during any [unclear] But what is clear is that the media are trying to distract the public from the real issue, which is the cuts that the government are making.
Interviewer: Were you harmed in any way in that incident with the police?
JM: Not in that … incident, in the incident that’s being shown. There was also another incident around 45 minutes earlier when a police officer struck me with a baton and yes that did cause some injury.
Interviewer: And why then, do you think– Are you saying the police picked on your twice. Why do you think they did?
JM: I have no idea. I mean, to make one suggestion, I think in the second incident at least, I think there’s a clear element of trying to provoke protesters into violence. Personally, I see myself as equal to anyone else, but I do understand that I could be perceived as more vulnerable, so I think there was an element of trying to provoke violence from others.
Interviewer: Did you shout anything provocative or throw anything that would have induced the police to do that to you?
JM: Do you really think a person with Cerebral Palsy in a wheelchair can pose a threat to a police officer who is armed with weapons?
Interviewer: But you do say that you’re a revolutionary.
JM: That’s a word, it’s not a physical action that I’ve taken against the police officers, a word that you’re quoting from a website. I’m asking you: do you think I could have in any way posed a physical threat from the seat of my wheelchair to an army of police officers armed with weapons? This whole line of argument is absolutely ludicrous because you’re blaming the victims of violence for that violence. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the way the BBC report on the Palestinian conflict–
Interviewer: When are you going to make your compalint to the police?
JM: I will be making my complaint very shortly, in the near future.
Interviewer: Okay, Jody McIntyre, thanks very much for your time, thanks for talking to us this evening.
JM: Thank you.
Further Reading: Jody McIntyre’s blog, Life on Wheels
[ETA: Thanks to various people for letting me know the interviewer is Ben Brown.]
This is the third in a three-part post about a talk given by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, about the interactions between people who are mentally ill (her term) and the justice system of Canada. Part 1 briefly discussed the history of the treatment of people with mental illness in Canada, and then described the current situation with regards to the criminal court system. Part 2 discussed the interactions between people with a mental illness and the civil courts. Part 3 will discuss the mentally ill as victims of the justice system.
This post will discuss violence against people with disabilities.
All quotes are from my notes and are not verbatim.
Many Canadians will be familiar with several stories of people diagnosed with a mental health condition being killed by police officers. Byron DeBassige, 28, was shot and killed by police officers in February 2008 (Toronto). Howard Hyde, 45, was tasered and killed by police officers in November 2007 (Halifax). Ashley Smith, 19, committed suicide in jail while prison guards watched in October 2007 (Kitchener). Reyal Jensen Jardine-Douglas, 25, was shot and killed by police officers in August 2010 (Toronto). While Robert Dziekanski does not appear to have had a mental illness, his “irrational” behaviour after having been detained in the airport for 10 hours is the reason police officers gave for tasering him multiple times and leaving him to die in October 2007 (Vancouver).
The Chief Justice specifically focused on the case of Byron DeBassige, reading from the Toronto Star article I linked above. She went on to state that she believes that the police wouldn’t have shot DeBassige over two lemons and a knife had they known he was ill. In light of the other cases I’ve linked to, I don’t agree with her – in several of those cases the police were firmly and repeatedly told the person they killed was mentally ill. I don’t believe police officers as a whole have risen above the ableist prejudices that lead to psychophobia (fear of people with mental health conditions), simply because there’s been no real attempt in Canada to combat it.1
The Chief Justice went on to discuss how prejudice and fear can affect people with a mental illness: “I’d like to shift the focus to millions of mentally ill people who do not break the criminal law, who remain untreated or inadequately treated, and at liberty. Too often they are simply victims: Victims of discrimination, ignorance, societal inefficiency, and sometimes of violence that too often ends with their death.”
As a woman with a diagnosed mental health condition, I’m twice as likely as my non-disabled counterparts to be the victim of a violent crime, including rape. [Source is PDF] I’m also significantly less likely to be violent than my counterparts. And yet, even on FWD (in comments that are unapproved), it’s not rare for people to equate my diagnosis with abuse. It’s not uncommon for me to be sitting in a classroom of people who know that I campaign for disability rights and have talked a lot about the prejudices that face people with mental health conditions and have my classmates talk about how “crazy” people are violent. After learning I was going to this talk, one of my classmates told me that, should she ever murder someone, she’d claim temporary insanity and just spend a few months in care and then be released. All I could think of was Ashley Smith, who threw crab apples at the postman and died in jail.
The stark truth is too often we discriminate against the ill. We pass them lying on the street but ignore pleas for housing, reluctant to give them jobs even when they’ve struggled valiantly to overcome their illness. We marganilise them.
We need to know more if we’re going to avoid the specter of mentally ill as victims. Related to this is the lack of social coordination on behalf of the mentally ill. All who play a role in an ill person’s life must find ways to communicate and talk to each other. They fall through the cracks. There must be better communication between agencies if we are to prevent more mentally ill people from becoming victims.
This last quote is, in sum, why I felt a lot of frustration with this talk. Throughout, the Chief Justice talked about agencies, she talked about police officers, parole officers, and judges, she talked about what people can do. At no point did she quote an actual person with a mental illness. At no point did she suggest that people talk to those of us who have a mental health condition, and find out what we want and need. At no point did she talk about attempts by the justice system to include people with mental health conditions on tribunals or in the discussions about how the justice system can do better on this issue. Nothing about us without us really shouldn’t be a daring concept, but it seems it is.
Despite all of my complaining, I actually did enjoy this talk. It’s not very often that people admit that prejudice and fear play a strong part in the way people with mental illnesses are treated, by society in general and the justice system in particular. As a Canadian, it makes me happy that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is speaking about this, because her authority lends weight to what she’s speaking of, and because I know the Supreme Court is aware of the issues that she’s raising. I also appreciate that she takes the time to speak on this issue often. I was recently emailed the text of a similar talk she gave in 2005. Making law students and lawyers (as well as the general public) aware of these issues may help prevent future cases like Ashley Smith’s suicide.
I would obviously like that more awareness of these issues was addressed in a helpful and thoughtful manner in the newspapers, in classrooms, and on the internet. Chief Justice McLachlin is doing good work, and I’m very glad of the opportunity presented by Dalhousie University to see her talk in person.
- There is, however, an attempt to point out that “mental illness costs Canadians $51 Billion a year“. I don’t think we battle prejudice against mental health conditions by talking about how much it costs, especially since I think it would be more accurate to say “discrimination and stigma related to mental health conditions costs the economy $51 Billion a year”, but what do I know? I’m just a crazy lady. ↩
Trigger Warning for discussion of abuse and murder of people with disabilities.
This list of September media reports about people with disabilities murdered or dying under strange circumstances is presented without commentary, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing people may want to discuss about it in comments. I do not believe for a moment that this list is complete. It is sorted alphabetically by last name. Almost all links are to news reports.
Joseph Abdo, 68, multiple sclerosis, Castleton Corners, NY. Died in a house fire.
Shah Amin, 19, “intellectually disabled”, Marsiling, Singapore, September 26. Found strangled in his hotel room after the body of his father was found in a nearby park.
Leosha Barnett, 17, epilepsy and undefined mental disabilities, Fort Worth, Texas, May 21. Starved by her mother and sister.
Jeffrey Bishop, 53, undefined physical disabilities, Louisville, Kentucky, sometime in the first week of September. Strangled by roommates/care-givers, who left his body in the basement so they could collect his disability cheques. [Indictment]
Kimberly “Kimmie” Daily, 16, developmentally disabled, Puyallup, Washington, August 17. Raped and murdered. A neighbour is charged in her death.
Payton Ettinger, 4, “mental and physical disabilities”, Greensburg, Indiana, May 17. Malnutrition and dehydration. He weighed 12 pounds at his death.
Earl Handy Jr, 39, Deaf, Conroe, Texas, September 24. Found dead in his cell from suicide. [He was in isolation to protect him because he was Deaf]
Ernie Hernandez, Jr., 37, “mentally disabled”, Modesto, California , August 14. Stabbed to death.
Gerren Isgrigg, 6, unstated “severe medical issues”, Wylie, Texas, April 15. Left exposed in a wooded area by his primary caregiver, his grandmother, he died two days later. “She felt like she was being punished by having to take care of the child.”
Albert David Jenkins Jr, 53, undefined disablities, Mobile, Alabama, May 2008. Shot in the back 7 times; the shooter plead guilty.
Reyal Jensen Jardine-Douglas, 25, undefined mental illness, Toronto, Ontario, August 29. Shot by police called by family for assistance.
Frederick Jones, early 20s, “outpatient care”, Kansas City, Kansas, September 3. Fatally shot at a gas station, died in hospital.
David Lauberts, 50, “developmentally disabled”, Greeley, Colorado, September 2009. His brother pleaded “no contest” to charges of criminally negligent homicide. Cause of death included “active caretaker neglect”.
Teresa Lewis, 41, “She’s not mentally retarded, but she is very, very close to it”, Jarrat, Virginia, September 23. Lethal injection.
Tia McShane, age at death unknown (would now be 11), cerebral palsy, Pensacola, Florida, remains found September 30. “A disabled child’s remains appear to have been found in a Pensacola storage unit, bringing a heartbreaking end to a month long search for a girl whose absence raised no alarm for years.”
Darren O’Connor, 19, partially paralyzed, South Tyneside, UK, July 7. He was discovered with breathing difficulties while in police custody and died in hospital.
Jeremy Price, 18, “had an IQ at the level of mental retardation” and had escaped from a mental health facility, Mattapan, Massachusetts, September 6. Shot by police officers.
Rylan Rochester, 6 months, “thought to be autistic”, Boulder, Colorado, June 1. Smothered by his mother.
David Skelly, 53, “learning difficulties”, Liverpool, England, September 14. Punched to death by an unknown assailant.
Rohit Singh, 7, “physically challenged”, Bathinda, Punjab. Hammered to death by his father.
Regina Wynn, 87, Alzheimer’s, Richmond, Virginia, Early September. Abuse and Neglect, she died in hospital with bruises on her chest, abdomen, arms, hands and on the front of her head.
John T. Williams, 50, deaf in one ear, arthritic, Ditidaht member of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of Canada’s Vancouver Island, living in Seattle. Shot four times in the chest by police officers. [Hundreds Protest police shooting of Native American Carver, Here is a petition you can sign]
Two unnamed men, 87 and 83, “wheelchair bound” and “senile dementia”, Madrid, Spain, September 18. Died after being left in a hot van for 11 hours.