GCU to Commemorate the Lives of Disabled Filicide Victims
Lakewood, N.J., February 22, 2018—Georgian Court University will participate in the National Day of Mourning with a March 1 vigil at the Dorothy Marron University Community Chapel located on GCU’s historic Lakewood campus. The event, slated for 6:00 to 7:15 p.m., includes prayer and a reading of the names of victims murdered by family members.
The Day of Mourning, often hosted by disability rights advocates, honors the lives of disabled people killed by their caretakers. By honoring disabled victims of murder and celebrating the lives that they lived, participants in the vigils send a message: Disability is not a justification for violence.
“Every year, hundreds of people with disabilities are murdered by those who they should have trusted the most,” said Melanie Mogavero, Ph.D., an assistant professor of criminal justice at GCU. “Every year we gather to remember those precious, valuable, and innocent lives. We remember them, honor them, and seek justice for them.”
Mourning Lives Lost
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), which tracks these cases, has compiled a list of over 950 reported murders of people with disabilities by relatives or caregivers over the last 38 years. According to the organization, the total number of killings is likely higher than the amount which are reported in news media.
ASAN held the first Day of Mourning in 2012 as a response to the murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California, by his mother. ASAN has continued to organize the event each year, partnering with other disability rights groups, including Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, ADAPT, and the American Association of People with Disabilities. The Day of Mourning is a national event, with 20 to 30 participating cities each year.
Little public attention is paid to the disabled victims of these violent acts. ASAN believes media coverage and public discourse about such killings frequently justifies them as “understandable” and sometimes “merciful,” rather than appropriately condemning these crimes and those who commit them.
The GCU event is free and open to the public. Registration is required and guests can register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disability-day-of-mourning-tickets-43135076174?aff=es2.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!
Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court expands possibility for nearly 2,400 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 30+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. In 2017, GCU was named #39 on Washington Monthly’s list of Best Bang for the Buck schools. GCU has also been recognized by The Economist and Colleges of Distinction and is a Military Friendly® School. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at Hazlet, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.