We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project

Co-created with Keri Gray. Video edited by Njaimeh Njie.

We Can’t Breathe Video | We Can’t Breathe Toolkit (PDF or plain text)

“We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project ” includes a video and toolkit that can be utilized for educational training for disability organizations and agencies. The We Can’t Breathe Video discusses the narratives of 5 people with disabilities on the margins that have been victimized by police brutality and other forms of systemic violence. The We Can't Breathe Toolkit addresses how state violence affects people with disabilities who are also women, people of color, and LGBTQ+.

The We Can’t Breathe Project, both the video and toolkit, are products of the National Council on Independent Living’s Diversity Committee. The We Can’t Breathe Video was created by Keri Gray and Dustin Gibson with support from the NCIL Diversity Committee and Caucuses. The We Can’t Breathe Toolkit was written and designed by Keri Gray with support from the NCIL Diversity Committee.

#DisabilitySolidarity History:

"Disability Solidarity holds the disability community accountable for intersectional justice and holds all communities accountable for disability justice." -Ki’tay D. Davidson

After the murder of Michael Brown and the continued state violence that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, many social justice movements and organizations quickly responded in solidarity with Michael Brown’s family, Ferguson, and Black Lives Matter. Despite the clear need for allyship and solidarity, not one formal disability organization spoke up or responded. Even after the Lead On Network released a national sign-on letter for disability rights organizations to stand in solidarity, within a week, only ten organizations nationally signed on to the letter. This and other inaction on issues of racial and economic justice by self-proclaimed disability rights organizations and movement leaders was the impetus behind the creation of the #DisabilitySolidarity hashtag & platform. This effort was, led by Ki’tay D. Davidson, Allie Cannington & Talila “TL” Lewis.

On Friday, August 22, 2014, #DisabilitySolidarity hosted a landmark Twitter conversation to hold our disability rights organizations accountable for supporting and advancing racial justice and intersectional justice. 4,000+ tweets later and with a reach of over 40,000 people, #DisabilitySolidarity made clear that there is no disability justice, without disability solidarity.

Now, more than two years later, the resourced disability community still has not truly shown #DisabilitySolidarity, even in the face of evidence proving that the majority of those killed by the police and who experience other state violence are, in fact, people of color with disability.

This project honors the legacy of Ki’tay D. Davidson and also thousands of Black, Latinx, Indigenous Disabled & Deaf people murdered at the hands of the state by providing the tools to act in Disability Solidarity.

Dustin Gibson