I'm a bit late to post these today, but they're important. I did not write them, as they clearly state. My friend Shaun did. They've been dealing with massive shit as a result of activisming while autistic and now you all get to read about it. If you are a person named here who behaved badly, well, if you wanted people to write warmly of you then you should have behaved accordingly. Content notes for sexual abuse, ableism, racism, antisemitism, a whole wide varieties of behaving badly.
As mentioned in the last post, every member of Seattle Disability Commission leadership (including every appointed person of color) penned a letter outlining major concerns with racism, misogyny, ableism, misogynoir, retaliation, concerns for safety, and a lack of support from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). We made several asks, one of which is that myself and Meg Bartosovsky would be placed in Council-appointed seats based on our advocacy record.
Advocates and activists aren't known for sitting around waiting on elected leaders, though: at our June meeting, Commissioners nominated and voted me into a Commission-appointed seat, restoring my status as Co-Chair in the process, albeit over the vocal objections of Commissioner Eric Scheir.
I want to pause and address the absence of Meg Bartosovsky from this part of the narrative. Part of the way that Commissioners have been individually stalked and harassed is through the use of Public Disclosure Requests, or PDRs, which we are subject to at public request like actual employees of the city. Unlike employees of the city, we are not paid for the dozens and dozens of hours we've spent on this, nor are we protected from harassment.
Felak demanded Meg Bartosovsky's texts from a time before she'd even applied to be on the Commission: she refused. Marta Idowu insisted that she must turn them over, going as far to go to the City Attorney's office and suggest that Bartsovsky was deleting public records. She conveyed in a public meeting that our texts were subject to PDR and was vague on whether our personal contact information, such as phone numbers and home addresses, would be as well (we asked for this statement in writing and months later have not received it). Meg was unwilling to continue working with a city department that had treated her as OCR had, and also had concerns about her safety should OCR disclose her address. Those concerns turned out to be prescient, as I discovered in October 2018 that OCR had provided Felak with at least my personal cell phone without my knowledge.
Back to Eric Scheir. Scheir is a Mayoral-appointment who has personally harassed and defamed myself and other members of the Commission since Marta Idowu first invited him to a Commission meeting in late 2017. Scheir has stated he is using the Commission as a stepping stone to run for public office, and his appointment seems at least somewhat political: despite not living or working in the city of Seattle, requirements to be appointed to a Commission, the Mayor has appointed him anyway.
Commissioners have noticed a pattern where wealthy white men (without cognitive disabilities) such as Scheir and Lewis get appointed despite not living or working in Seattle. By contrast, no people of color were even considered for the Commission in 2016 or 2017 (ChrisTiana ObeySumner was the only appointed POC at this time). DorianTaylor was finally appointed in Spring 2018--and even then, when Taylor moved almost outside the bounds of the city they were questioned as to whether they could even be on the Commission any longer.
Scheir's naked ambition seems to have driven a lot of his decisions--he signed the letter calling for my removal (and declaring our election invalid) in April 2018. He interpreted our July letter to City Council as being all about him (he's 5 lines of a 6-page letter), and exploded at the August Commission meeting, screaming at the top of his lungs at Co-Chair ObeySumner and physically intimidating them, as well as threatening to sue all of us who sent the letter for libel. He objected to even voting on my reappointment, holding the process up for an hour with his raging outburst.
Scheir seems adept at disrupting meetings: he managed to interrupt every vote at the next two meetings as well as to take issue with everything from the name of the Commission to my continued presence at the Commission. In September, he called for both of us to be removed and replaced as Co-Chairs. During the meeting, ObeySumner proposed sending out a doodle poll over the weekend to find the best date to have our yearly retreat, which would be a mediation. When they did not send it out over the weekend (waiting on OCR to give times the mediator(s) would be available), Scheir immediately sent out a letter of intent to remove ObeySumner for cause. His attacks on us, on ObeySumner's competency, his petulant, childlike insistences he should be able to run as Co-Chair right now have been regular and unceasing.
Scheir and the other members of Steve Lewis' former clique, as well as Felak, testified against my approval at the City Council's subcommittee meeting in September. You can view their comments starting 15:03; my comments start at 1:03:45. Aside from the fact most of their comments don't connect with reality (all of the documents referring to these individuals are public record and have been linked in these posts), they are hyperfocused on accusations of racism, and on attributing those comments to me. In his comment Eric Scheir says that I have called him white supremacist--but the only reference to "white supremacist" in our letter to OCR is the action of attributing the decisions of the Commission's people of color (ObeySumner and Taylor) to me, something which Scheir ironically does in his testimony, while claiming that these accusations are attacks on his "disability, religion, and sexual orientation."
We've had two recent mediations, during which Scheir aggressively misgendered a trans Commissioner over twenty times, repeatedly centered himself as a victim, and alluded to suing us all again. In the meantime, half of the individuals who signed that letter have quit and the rest of us are at our wit's end: it doesn't look like this level of harassment is ever going to abate.
A few things have changed. As per our request, Marta Idowu is no longer the Commission's support staff from OCR. After I discovered OCR has sent my number to my stalker, I discussed it with the Co-Chairs of all five civil rights Commissions, and OCR has a new policy to inform us first and give us 2 weeks to file a legal challenge before disclosing our information. And of course OCR is investing in these mediations themselves.
But participation in the Commission remains an environment of regular stress, refreshed by weekly waves of retaliation and harassment. Even with all I've written, there are things I don't feel safe talking about. And I know many people will simply see an array of white, wealthier, allistic, more acceptably disabled, older individuals commenting about how horrible I am and simply assume I must be the cause of the division. I don't know what the future holds for me, or if I will experience more professional retaliation when I've had to fight so hard to even have a job as an autistic person.
But I'm not ready to give up yet, nor to cede the world I live in to eugenicists and narcissists hungry for power for power's sake.
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