A Disability Day of Mourning: Remembering the Murdered and the Vulnerable
The yellow candle light is protected from the hand by the wind and in the picture there is a niose.

On March 1 every year, disability communities gather to mourn disabled people murdered by their caregivers. The first vigil was held in 2012, outside Sunnyvale City Hall. “It was a small group. We had some local [advocates] there. And we had some people from the community who knew George,” Gross recalled. Since then, the Disability Day of Mourning has become an international movement, with 32 vigils planned across the world. Because of the pandemic, all vigils this year will be virtual, except for the one in Sydney, Australia, where Covid-19 is less widespread. “We usually have between 30 and 40 sites every year. Most of them in the US, but we’ve also had sites in the UK, Australia, and China,” Gross said.

It isn’t clear how many disability-motivated filicides happen each year. While the FBI tracks the number of children killed by their parents in the United States, information about motive is not usually collected. Instead, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network tracks news stories about caregivers who kill.

When stories are reported in a way that normalizes, exonerates, or even exalts caregivers who murder disabled people, Gross said, they may encourage copycat crimes.

Gross also highlighted the dehumanizing way disabled people, particularly autistic people, are described in media.

Read more in The Nation.

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