Recently some people with the Southwest Center for Independence spray painted a picture of a person falling out of a wheel chair and wrote "No Access" in front of businesses in Cortez, Colorado. They called this a staged protest, but I call it defacing public and private property which translates to vandalism regardless of your cause. I was upset that these people did not go to the property owners first and speak to them asking why their businesses do not have wheel chair access, I was upset that they called this type of behavior a protest and I was even more upset that they were allowed to get away with this type of behavior. To note, I called the ADA and was told they would not suggest anyone deface public property.
In my opinion this only makes people angry, this type of behavior incites violence and anger in others. When I read about it I was instantly angry at those who did this and my sympathy for their cause was set aside. Actually at first I didn't care what their cause was, this was wrong. Then I read the article only to discover that the businesses, at least some of them had not been notified by the group, had not been told that the group had an issue. The group just vandalized their property.
The group did not know that at least one of the businesses had tried to put in a wheel chair access but it was not possible so they are exempt. The people from Southwest Center should have went to the business owners, then if they did not find satisfaction, paint signs and stand in front of the buildings if they wish, or write an article about it for the paper. Do something constructive. Not vandalize these people's property for their cause. Those who might have been sympathetic will only fee anger now.
I will fight for anyone right to protest an issue, I will even fight for those who I believe are wrong to express themselves, as long as they do it within the guidelines of the US Constitution. That right does not say you can deface property. This protest was disrespectful and wrong. It prompted a lot of anger in many people and a lot of name calling. Nothing positive came from this, it only caused more distress between people and well folks we have enough hate right now, why add more to it.
I would also like to add that I have been in The Farm, the business that is exempt, and there are three steps into the building that could easily be maneuvered by a wheel chair if a person really wants to eat there. My son has a friend in a wheel chair and he does not let his chair stop him, if he wants to go somewhere and there are stairs, he goes. If he can't go up the stairs he has a friend push him. Granted businesses need to provide access when they can but some of the older businesses just don't have that ability due to the location and type of building.
I hope the people who did this apologize to the businesses and if there is a way to get access to these places, help them find that way. Do something constructive, not destructive.
I am also baffled that the people doing this did not get in trouble. If teenagers had painted or chalked things on the sidewalk they would have been charged with vandalism. What makes this any different?
I am not against the cause, but I am against the way this was handled.