a silhouette of a black man on a wheelchair with his arm up in the air
While being physically present at a protest may not be feasible, there are other ways people with disabilities can participate in the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo courtesy: Unsplash


#BlackLivesMatter: Resources for People With Disabilities

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Police brutality against black people in the United States is well-documented. In Minneapolis alone, where George Floyd died, the police turned physical against black people “seven times that of white people,” according to The New York Times.

With Black Lives Matter protests raging across the United States and around the world, people with disabilities, especially black people with disabilities, have been left out of the narrative. Of the many reasons, the most important one is the lack of physical space and infrastructure that allows people with disabilities to access public spaces. With so many instances of the police’s heavy-handedness in the protests, it further risks the safety of people with disabilities. 

A report from 2016 found that the number of Americans with disabilities who died at the hands of police ranged from 25% to 40%. While Black Disabled and Proud, a consortium of people working in colleges, states that “African American people with disabilities are especially likely to be victims of violence and police brutality.”  

With a history of protest which has resulted in significant policy change, people with disabilities are taking a different tact with the current Black Lives Matters protests. #DisabledPeopleForBlackLives, created by activist Imani Barbarin, is trying to amplify voices of people with disabilities at the protests as well as raising awareness and donations for organizations working on the ground. She recognizes that people with disabilities have to look for alternate ways of impacting the movement.

If people with disabilities choose to participate physically in the protest, PACER Centre has some general tips on how they can be prepared if they are questioned by the police. These include tips on what not to do when being questioned including:

  • Running away from the police officer
  • Make up a story — even if he or she thinks it will help
  • Argue with a police officer, even if the police officer says something that sounds unfair

People with disabilities can also contribute to the protest and the movement without being physically present. According to Amnesty International, “…movements need everything. Childcare, web design, phone banking, outreach, legal aid, and letters to the editor are just a few of the hundreds of ways people contribute. Think about what you have to offer, and share that skill with groups and organizations.”

Sustaining movements needs support from all corners and it isn’t just about showing up physically. Babysitting someone’s child so they can go out and march is just as important or using your social media to amplify the voices of activists can help further fuel the movement.

For more information on protesting, event planning and resources for people with disabilities, Black Disabled and Proud has comprehensive resources.

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#BlackLivesMatter: Resources for People With Disabilities