[nfbmi-talk] Fw: the picket line

David Robinson drob1946 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 18 14:57:28 UTC 2015

----- Original Message ----- 
From: joe harcz Comcast 
To: Mark Kamar, Esq. 
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 10:55 PM
Subject: the picket line

The Picket Line


When I was a young man growing up just north of Flint Michigan I was a product of what might be called a “solidarity movement”. That for folks who don’t know much about politics or movements for the working class might call it a brotherhood. Workers fought against the bosses in General Motors for equable treatment, union rights, associational rights, and the basic rights to make a fair day rate for the labor extolled in some sort of safe environment.


They organized, and they picketed and they even took over plants in famous sit-down-strikes all fighting for our freedom and basic standards of living, the first being foremost.

And I was the son of a Catholic small business-man, and even a Republican who happened to be a Catholic and a small homebuilder. But, he taught me to never cross a picket line even though he didn’t have a “union shop”, for he knew two things:


-First it wasn’t right.

-Secondly, it wasn’t in his self-interest.


On the latter my dad made a good living building homes for those union workers in the sixties, seventies and eighties.


On the former though he was a small business man he always was a worker, hammer in hand and not some sort of “arm chair boss”. He always knew the value of labor as he always has labored. But, he always knew the value of labor and embewed me with those values even though he knew I was going blind.



Now what has this got to do with the organized blind movement, or the organized movement of other people with disabilities; or the combined movement which is all about the same goal---equal opportunity and equal treatment?


The bottom line is this: We must stand together, in solidarity. We must as Martin Luther King said, and understood, and lived by “An injustice to one is an injustice to everyone.”


In other words our collective civil and human rights no matter our diversity and even differences in opinions are intertwined.


We must standing solidarity with each other if not for the liking of each other, for simple and common survival!


We cannot afford in this movement for civil rights of the individual and the whole to throw even one person under the bus.


We cannot let a few brave individuals either to carry all the water. And we certainly cannot allow our organizations or petty rivalries over this or that petty thing to determine whether or not this action or this person is deemed worthy of her or his backing for attempting to advance the common good.


And if folks are afraid of retaliation then let us think of what happened to oppressed people who did nothing in and because of retaliation before in history.


I’ll remind people that before the Jews were slaughtered, and before the gypsies, and others were slaughtered, as if this wasn’t bad enough, the very first people put to death in Nazi extermination camps in the T-4, final solution programs were 100,000  people with disabilities in 1940.


Yea the very first ushered in to gas chambers were people….People who were blind, deaf, mentally and physically disabled!


Now we people with disabilities have to know this history and more. Why to re-visit horrid pages from the past? No, because they can become our present!


Fast forward to the events of September 17, 2015 and the events on the literal Michigan State Capitol lawn where an event sponsored by state and federal taxpayers funds was to celebrate the 25th celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, our collective civil rights law, premised on Article V, of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution itself, the highest law of this land which is supposed to be a land of law and not of men. And what does it say? It says we are all guaranteed “equal protection and due process under law”.


These words make me weep for joy, my sisters and my brothers. They need no gloss. They are what they are.


And these words were codified in to law for all of us with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And this very act was to remove barriers by state and local government under Title II of the Act twenty five years ago, yet literal police and other barriers  were put forth  to me and others with disabilities on that day. And they were not the picket lines of the oppressed, but, rather the lpolice lines of the oppressors against the voices of the oppressed. These were the abuses by the state using the state police to stifle First Amendment rights of not only a small handful of people with disabilities but, also all of you just like the state police were used decades ago to silence the voices of the oppressed at the likes of the Flint, Michigan “sit-down strike” and other actions, though this one incidence is even more disturbing for we people with disabilities were not taking over private property, and nor were we impeding public access and nor were we even engaging in picketing or bblocking public access. No, we were only trying to distribute pamplets, and only trying to engage our civil rights in and upon a public event and public forum: a most protective right, especially when engaging state officials on public property!



Yet, on September 17 of this year on the State Capitol lawn, or rather as the MSP proscribed, not beyond the “Austin Blair Statue” the rights of the blind and others with other disabilities ended, including our First Amendment rights to protest against the violations of the very act which was supposedly being celebrated. Again public expense and in a public forum, the most public of forums, the very “Peoples House”. the Lawn of the Michigan State Capitol.


Many, including me were protesting, again with words and pamphlets in peaceable assembly guaranteed by our sacred First Amendment rights the fact that the ADA is violated tby our public officials including the segregated and exploitative treatment of more than 8,150 of our sisters and brothers  with disabilities who are exploitive with sub-minimum wages in the sheltered workshops of publicly funded operations like Peckham Industries Inc. while CEOs like Mitch Tomlinson who is a connected state actor makes $500,000 plus on our blood, sweat and tears.


So these creeps with Lt. Governor  Calley on the rostrum along with other state actors Called on the stage at our civil rights celebration violated our civil rights on our civil rights day, and they criminalized my civil rights by arresting me for “crossing the artificial picket line, not by labor but against our rights and by state actors acting as a police state against the dissemination of ideas”, on the ultimate public forum where, most ironically the most protected free speech rights to express all sorts of ideas in the free market place of ideas was created to begin with, the, again “People’s House”, the State Capitol Lawn! Again, being redundant here, we were violated from expression even on the State Capitol Lawn! My God if people cannot see  how 


wrong this is then there is no hope not only for people with disabilities but for all 


The “Picket line” is an expression of solidarity for rights and not supposed to be an exclusionary tool of he state apparatchek against we the people.

The barriers and barricades are supposed to be the tools of we the people against the abuses of the state and not the tools of the state to be used against our inclusion in the activities of the state.


Aside from heroes in the disability movement like Justin Dart, Jacobus Tenbroek, Judy  Heuman, Wade Blank, and countless others, living and dead,  must stand up in one voice with one fist and say, “Enough is enough! Nothing about us without us is the mantra of the disabilities rights movement. It applies to all lovers of democracy with a small “d”.


And the slogan “Nothing about us without us,” is also the mantra of all the people acting in concert in this struggle for equality in this world. All of us. Don’t exclude we people who happen tolive with disabilities from this promise and this birthright! For we are you, if not today, then tomorrow.



Joe Harcz


Advocate with Disabilities

Mt. Morris, Michigan

November 17, 2015



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