In response to the March 6 murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old man with autism, by his mother, disability advocacy groups are holding candlelight vigils across the country March 30 as part of a “National Day of Mourning.”
“We are sending a message that violence against disabled people is unacceptable,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, told Disability Scoop. “We are concerned that when acts of murder occur, the folks being killed are written out of their own story. It ends up being the tragic story of the parents, which in a lot of ways legitimizes the act and allows it to occur further.”
Vigils are planned in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston, Tampa, Fla., Fort Worth, Texas and Portland, Ore.
“These are tragic situations that are irrational responses to very challenging circumstances, and they need to be understood as criminal acts by desperate individuals,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “The vast majority of parents of children with disabilities never commit these crimes or resort to murder-suicide. It’s not something done by people of healthy and sound minds.”
For locations and additional information on the vigils, read here.