If you've been reading the special-needs news (and how sad is it that it's not a mainstream news story?), you may have come across the story of Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old with Down syndrome who suffocated to death after being restrained face-down on the ground by three off-duty police officers working as security guards. His crime? Staying in his movie-theater seat after watching a film without paying for a second showing.
Two of this year's Readers' Choice Awards participants, blog finalist Big Blueberry Eyes and online-community winner Down Wit Dat - The Group, have information on their sites about the story and what you can do to make sure that this death isn't written off as some sort of unavoidable Down-syndrome side effect. Down Syndrome Uprising, a new group of which Down Wit Dat's Jen Logan is one of the founding members, has issued a call to action demanding that the officers be held accountable and that advocacy organizations and parents show their outrage.
This is a story that should be of concern not only for parents of kids with Down syndrome but for any mom or dad of a young person who, for disability-related reasons, reacts to confrontation in a way that may be seen as threatening to others, and requires a degree of patience, respect, and understanding that is not standard operating procedure. Also, for anyone who feels that blaming the disability for the death in such situations is as unacceptable and dangerous.