Journalism & Police Brutality Against Black Disabled People

The article is the first in a series of 5 interviews on Police Brutality by Leroy Moore.  Look for future articles.

Anita Cameron speaks with Leroy Moore from Krip-Hop Nation.Image of Anita Cameron

Krip-Hop - In this series I made an effort to identify Black disabled activists and bloggers/journalists that have been outspoken on the issue of police brutality against Black disabled people. 

Krip-Hop - So tell us first how did you get into blogging/journalism and has the journalism world been accepting of your multiple identities, disabled, female and queer?

Anita Cameron – I started blogging back in 2004 as dread1myn at The Roving Activist, though I began writing as a kid. I was accepted by other queer bloggers of color and a few bloggers with disabilities, but I never felt or feel today, that I’ve made the big time. I wrote for Yahoo Voices until they closed shop and wrote for The Mobility Resource. I’ve been a guest columnist for The Greeley Tribune, as well as the State of Colorado and at Handicap This! A couple of my articles made The Huffington Post and an article that I wrote appears in Howard Zinn’s “Voices of a People’s History of the United States”. Currently, I blog at Angry Black Womyn. There, I blog about racial, as well as disability issues.

Krip-Hop - You have been on the front lines with ADAPT & disability activism in NY so in all of your activism have you seen your communities, Black, Disabled & Queer come together locally in NY and on blogs?

Anita Cameron – I’ve not seen it locally, when I was in NY, nor have I seen it here in Denver, where I live now. I believe it’s because of our inability to come together as Blacks, disabled and queer. Intersectionality is still a new concept to people. To be honest, unless you fall into two or more groups, it’s hard to wrap one’s head around intersectionality, as critical as it is. And for us disabled folk, we’re constantly erased from the Black, queer, and in my case, women’s perspective.

Krip-Hop - As a Black queer disabled woman journalist what are the downfalls when it comes to mainstream media and even activist journalists when they report on this issue of police brutality when it happens to people with disabilities?  And what is different from their writings and yours?

Anita Cameron - I’ve not seen too many mainstream journalists write on police brutality and folks with disabilities, and when I’ve seen it done, we’re reduced to objects of pity.

Krip-Hop - Do you think that some Black media are better reporting on this issue and understanding disability politics, language and if so or not give example on both ends?

Anita Cameron - I’ve not seen it unless the author is disabled, themselves.

Krip-Hop - At this time and with the issue of police brutality what are the good things that are happening in general and for Black disabled people and our community around the issue of police brutality?  And tell us what do you think about Black Lives Matter?

Anita Cameron - Oddly, it’s social media like Twitter that is reporting and demanding justice for us. Black Twitter and disability activists are doing an excellent job of getting the Word out through that venue.  I totally agree with Black Lives Matter movement, but as for dealing with folks with disabilities during protests, well, there’s a lot to be desired, especially here in Denver. I attended a couple here in Denver and we get left behind literally and figuratively. I’m so used to ADAPT, where we look out for each other and never leave anyone in the position of getting snatched alone by the police. The problem is, organizers sometimes feel as if you’re trying to tell them how to do their job. Still, I hope that more Black disabled folks get involved with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Krip-Hop - What should journalists in general know when reporting on cases of police brutality against people with disabilities who might have more than one identity?  

Anita Cameron - Above all, treat and write about all identities with respect and dignity and see that person as a human being, not as an object of pity, derision or shame. Above all, if the person is trans, do not misgender them. Refer to that person by the gender that they tell you they are!

Krip-Hop -  Years ago I asked one of the top attorneys around police brutality, why there is a lack of movement, protests and media toward police brutality cases involving people with disabilities and his answer blew me away.  His answer was mainly the disability community is not loud/powerful enough on the issue.  What do you think about this question and responds and what are your thoughts?

Anita Cameron - Unfortunately, that lawyer is right! Disability organizations are so focused on the basics, such as freeing our people from unnecessary institutionalization, affordable, accessible, integrated housing, attendant services and other basic civil rights that other issues like employment or dealing with police brutality falls by the wayside. I believe that there should be disability groups created solely to address police brutality because this is getting out of hand, especially in the Black community.

Krip-Hop - Both of us know that a common mainstream responds to police brutality against people with disabilities has been and still is more training.  What is your response to that answer and how would you go deeper in an interview if that was the answer? Anita Cameron -To me, training means nothing. The police were trained here in Denver to deal with autistic folks, yet, Paul Childs, a teenager on the spectrum, was murdered by cops who knew him and was trained to deal with him. Police have been trained to deal with folks with mental health disabilities, yet, not three weeks ago, Paul Castaway was murdered by police when his family called for help. They even lied on him and said he stabbed his mother, which was not true. No amount of training will help a cop who doesn’t see you as a human being and is angry, racist, trigger happy and a liar.

Krip-Hop - As we know most of the focus is on getting in the streets and protesting but we know that many of us can’t physically do that and also cultural activism has been played down.  Tell us as a blogger and journalist with a disability how can we switch that frame and report on the different angle?  Give us an example.

Anita Cameron – I believe in getting out in the streets and protesting, but I also feel that if one cannot physically do that, use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to get the word out. Sign petitions, write letters, call, donate a few bucks to an organization. Bring food and water to protests and return home. Get the word out about jail or bail support. There’s so much that we who cannot be out in the streets can do.

Krip-Hop - Any last words?

Anita Cameron – The police are part of the system of White supremacy and that system needs to be dismantled.  We as disabled folk must raise our voices really, really loud so that the mainstream hears and joins our calls for justice.

The article is the first in a series of 5 interviews on Police Brutality by Leroy Moore. Look for future articles.