Approximately 15 Autistic individuals and cross-disability allies protested Autism Speaks' lack of family and community support, its high executive pay, its lack of Autistic representation, and its eugenic aims. Protesters heavily emphasized that Autism Speaks only gives 4% of money raised to families and local communities.
During the first half of the protest, protesters faced incoming traffic and held signs with slogans such as Listen to Me, I Have Autism, First Class Autistic, Second-Class Citizen, and Autism Speaks Does Not Speak for Me. Several interested individuals approached the group, some kind and supportive, others not. One such negative encounter involved a walker who claimed that Autism Speaks can't have Autistic leaders or board members because Autistic people are incapable of making important decisions.
|From left to right, top to bottom: Benzion Chinn, Ross Edelman, Elizabeth Brewer, Justin Rooney, Erika Strandjord, Jessica Roeder, Noranne Cochran, and Melanie Yergeau.|
During the second half of the event, protesters faced 18,000 walkers, many of whom were far more belligerent than those encountered during last year's protest. One walker screamed, "Are you all stupid?! You're all stupid!" This particular walker lunged toward the protesters and had to be pushed back by a friend and a walk official.
Others screamed, "You're a bunch of idiots!" and "How do you sleep at night?" Additionally, toward the end of the protest, a car full of walkers swerved at ASAN-OSU's faculty advisor as though they were going to hit her, and then drove off laughing. When protesters engaged in a dramatic reading of Jim Sinclair's "Don't Mourn for Us," a group of parents booed and yelled, "Go home! You suck!"
Protesters chanted at several intervals, with slogans such as Nothing about us without us! We don't need a cure! and Autism Speaks needs to listen! At one point, a group of cheerleaders grew quite loud in their chants, and protesters responded with, 2, 4, 6, 8, Autism Speaks discriminates!
Campus police and certain walk officials took great care to protect ASAN's first amendment rights, for which the protesters are incredibly grateful. So too did State Representative Ted Celeste stop by, listen, and share kind words with the protesters. The reporters were also very gracious and willing to listen.
ASAN-Central Ohio/Ohio State thanks those who were involved in the protest, including those who attended and those who assisted in planning. Individuals across the United States called and wrote cross-disability allies and Columbus media affiliates on our behalf, and many more spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media. So too did international members of the cross-disability community provide support and encouragement. Thank you. We appreciate all that you do.