Peoples Power Assemblies Take On Police Brutality Against People with Disabilities, NY

PNNscholar1 - Posted on 21 December 2015

Leroy Moore

In The Photo:  In the background there is a white sign with Black letters saying: Hallf of all people killed by police have a disability end racist police terror!  Terrea Mitchell with eye glasses - holding Black Lives Matter /Jeremy McDole poster, People’s Power Assemblies..In the background there is a sign that reads Stop Attacking Disabled People with a red circle with Donald Trump’s face and a thick redline crossing his.  Beside Terrea is a Black man with a sign saying People with disabilities need decent jobs livable wage, quality home and health care and transportation.



Leroy Moore:  I was so excited to see the article of people with disabilities protesting the police killing of Jeremy McDole, a 28-year-old African-American paraplegic who was shot and killed by police in Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 23 while in his wheelchair.  Give us/me some background about the People’s Power Assemblies, the activists who called for this protest and the connection between police brutality and disability.


Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies: The PPA is part of the Black Lives Matter movement collective. Well reading from our mission statement: Peoples Power Assemblies (PPA) organizes to empower workers and oppressed people to demand jobs, education and healthcare while fighting against racist police terror, sexism, LGBTQ and ableist oppression. PPA is a network of activists and organizations that are committed to a world free of oppression of any kind. These are values that we hold in our meetings as well as in the streets. I am an activist who was disabled. I thought about calling an action because half of the people killed by police have a disability. I didn't feel this was being highlighted, so I brought the idea to the group to do an action on the International Day of persons with disabilities to highlight police brutality, and killing of disabled people, as well as access to decent jobs with livable wages, quality,  affordable housing, and health care.  Issues that working, and/or poor people deal with, but that particularly affect the disabled community. Ezell Ford, Natasha McKenna, David Felix, Jeremy McDole, Shereese Francis are just a few of the many disabled people being murdered by police officers nationwide.


Leroy Moore: Tell us what goes on in your meetings and how are the assemblies organize.


Terrea Mitchell of  People’s Power Assemblies:  In our meetings, we usually do a report back on actions that may have taken place the following week or two. Actions we attended to show Solidarity, or ones that we organized, or helped organize. We usually have an agenda to discuss upcoming actions, some political discussion about a current event. Attendees and members can submit an idea for an action, or event. And we also have announcements so that people from other organizations can announce their upcoming actions. There are people's power assemblies chapters across the United States. From Baltimore, Maryland, to New York City, to Los Angeles, California.


Leroy Moore:   How did/do you make the protest and your meetings accessible?


Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies:  We tried to make sure our action would be accessible to disabled people by choosing a location that had an elevator and an escalator, that was fairly free of obstacles, barring the people of course and had freedom of movement. Our meetings are in a building that has an elevator. Our materials are not so accessible, but I'm still working with my crew on to resolve that issue.  We do have  a spanish interpreter, and generally if someone needs a special accommodation let us know beforehand, and we will do our best to accommodate you. Just keep in mind we are a small grassroots organization with limited monies so our solutions will be low tech and inexpensive. And if we don't know something, or you think of something better, or we were amiss in providing an accommodation - let us know. We try to think of all contingencies but we are humans but we do forget and make mistakes.


Leroy Moore:  Give us some background of the activists who attend the protest and are they deeply involve in the assemblies.


Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies:Our members come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Approximately 95% of them work full time jobs, some as many as 50 hours plays a week but they still take time to organize, plan, coordinate, and carry out an action. i.e. protests, rally's, marches, speak outs, outreach, etc. Nate Chase, KaLisa Moore, and Kim Ortiz are just a few of the PPA members who have been targeted for arrest and harassment by NYPD. KaLisa Moore is a founding member of the NYC PPA since 2013.


Leroy Moore:  Knowing that over 50% of police shootings are people with disabilities but at the same time our voices are not heard in the media and in movements how can we change that not only locally but also nationally?


Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies: We change the way we are doing now, by casting light on the issue of police brutality against disabled people. We do it by going to organizations that assist and service disabled people and demanding that they make this issue front and center. We do it but advocating for ourselves, become a part of the Black Lives Matter Movement, or any organization that fights for social justice and demand that they put these issues on the table. After all it's not us vs. them people, law enforcement and the criminal justice system overall, are hurting and killing all of us, disabled or not, they make no distinction. I say this with the caveat that if you are a disabled person you must be prepared to address accessibility challenges, and other issues that go with working with fully ableist bodied people, if that makes sense. After all, you are most likely working with people that have never encountered people with disabilities or they interactions with people who have hidden disabilities. I'm saying this to say that you may experience some level of frustration as they adjust and make accommodations for your particular 



Leroy Moore:  Is there going to be a follow up from the protest and is the assemblies going to continue to work on the issue of police brutality and people with disabilities?


Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies: Yes. We plan to do this again next year for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2016, and as the need arises before then.  We're taking feedback and assessments of the last action to make this an even bigger and better one. We will be reaching out earlier and more often to organizations that work with, and/or are run by people with disabilities.


Leroy Moore:  What do you think is needed in our communities to keep people with disabilities “safe” from police brutality?

Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies:  What is needed in the communities to keep people with disabilities safe: is Copwatch, someone monitoring and filming  cops, asking the person if they're alright during their interaction with officers; coming out to support a protest against police brutality and to demand justice for people murdered by police; if you are not able to physically join an action support by volunteering, we need bodies and capacity to do the background work- making signs, banners, flyers, phone calls, social media etc;  support grassroots organizations monetarily with donations. We need paper, ink flyers, banners, etc.


Leroy Moore:  What is next for Peoples Power Assemblies?


Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies:  We are having an action Sunday December 20th, 2016. Say no to Trump and his racist megaphone, in New York City at Trump Towers 56th street and 5th Avenue. His dangerous and racist rhetoric has resulted in black lives matter activists being beaten and  assaulted at his rallies, and violent speech and acts perpetrated against Americans of the Muslim faith and mocking people with disabilities.


Leroy Moore:  How can people get in contact with you all and any last words?


Terrea Mitchell of  Peoples Power Assemblies:  You can reach people's power assemblies by: coming to our weekly Wednesday meetings from 7 to 9 p.m., 147 West 24th Street, New York NY. Take the For 1 train to 23rd st.  2nd Fl. Solidarity Center.   Visiting our website - or

emailing us at - phoning us (212)-633-6646. We won't be holding any meetings December 23rd or December 30th 2016.


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