1/29/12 Meeting Notes

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First Meeting of the Disability Caucus

Jan. 29, 2012

2:00 PM

Atrium – 60 Wall Street



Nadina LaSpina

Danny Robert

Khaskil Amirov, PA

Julie Maury

Philip Bennett

Akemi Nishida

Julian Phillips, NYU journalism student

Leslie Freeman

Michelle Mantione

Connie Lesold

Dorothy Williams Pereira


Nadina is facilitating. But makes it clear that, since OWS is a leaderless movement, in this group we will take turns facilitating, taking minutes, etc.

Philip Bennett takes notes.

We each introduce ourselves and say what brought us to OWS.


Danny reads from the OWS Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.

We all agree we must be part of this movement. It is imperative that our voices be heard.


Nadina explains meetings procedure.

Use of hand gestures. Some disabled people cannot do hand gestures. As a “reasonable accommodation,” they will simply say: Agree, Disagree, etc.

Decisions are reached by consensus. If no consensus is reached at first, there’s further discussion. Nadina explains the meaning of a “stand aside,” (or “sit aside” for wheelchair users ;-), and the meaning and power of a “block.”

Above all, we will always be courteous and respectful of each other. We will deal with any type of disruption by all in the group “going silent.”


How do our issues fit into the OWS vision?

Attendees offer views of why we’re in the movement.

Nadina summarizes: we must make sure the disability perspective is included in every OWS issue. People with disabilities (PWDs) are being hit the hardest, being asked to sacrifice for a crisis we did not cause and that the 1% benefits from.

Disability has been occupied. It has become big business.

Julie: We’re seen as a drain on the economy. But people are making money off of us. We’re the cash cows.


Discussion of access problems at OWS.

Sometimes it seems that our “enemies” provide far more access for PWDs than our “friends” do.

Michelle: we can teach our friends how to include us.

Connie: hand signs exclude people who are blind.

Nadina: we have to look at and try to break down all barriers, people with different disabilities have different needs.

Leslie: it’s hard to include every type of disability.

There have been reports of people with psychiatric disabilities/labels being discriminated against at OWS.

Question is there a “Mental Health” group at OWS?

We will find out, work together, invite them to this group.


Participating in OWS events and actions.

We need to be a more integral part of this movement. Nadina: PWDs should be seen as a group. If only one or two show up at an event we’re seen as individuals. We need numbers.

Danny: participating “is so empowering and transcendent.”

“I’m being used as a tool by the corporate structure to make a profit.”

Some of us should do the training to take part in direct actions.

April 1st is a deadline when those receiving personal care and not in a consumer-directed program must choose a managed care agency or have one chosen for you. Managed care companies have money making/ money savings motives.

We will discuss (at next meeting) the possibility of doing an action on April 1st with the support of OWS.


Akemi: We can bring so much to this movement. We are activists, thinkers, performers…

Leslie: we must propose alternatives to the system by drawing from our various disability cultures.

Dorothy: We must be recognized for our value.

Leslie announced “Occupy Burlesque” (a group of burlesque dancers and side-show artists) planning an action in mid-April.


Nadina: We will think about what is the most important issue for PWDs at the moment. Do we want to start planning an action?

Issue of “incarceration” is mentioned. PWDs getting locked up in various types of institutions.


Meeting coming to an end.

Is it best for us to meet on a weekday? Friday?

Leslie says she cannot make Fridays but can use Skype to participate. It’s suggested that we alternate, meet on different days of the week.


It’s decided that the NEXT TWO MEETINGS will be FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3RD AND FEBRUARY 10TH AT 5:30pm.


WE ADJOURN at 3:57pm

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