Able News Feb. 2001 issue
NY ADAPT Targets Pataki's Offices on Freedom Day
Nadina LaSpina, surrounded by police officers from the 17th precinct discusses terms with Captain Kevin Ward

Nadina LaSpina, surrounded by police officers from the 17th precinct discusses terms with Captain Kevin Ward.

ADAPT members block the entrance to Gov. Pataki's city offices - see caption for complete description

ADAPT members block the entrance to Gov. Pataki's city offices. Demonstrators are (left to right, seated) John Fay, Steve Ferchak, Nadina LaSpina, Danny Robert and Michael Imperiale. Phil Bennet and Jim Davis hold the banner. 

-Friday, Jan. 12, was designated by National ADAPT, a radical disability rights group, as "Freedom Day."
-Every year a day is chosen — close to Martin Luther King’s birthday — on which ADA activists throughout the country hold actions with the greater purpose of freeing disabled people from institutions. 
-This year New York ADAPT planned a two-pronged action — simultaneously in Albany and in New York City — targeting Governor Pataki in an effort to force New York State to comply with the June ’99 Olmstead Decision.
-In Olmstead v. L.C., the Supreme Court upheld the “ADA integration mandate” which states that individuals with disabilities must be offered services in the “most integrated setting.” The court declared that “Undue institutionalization qualifies as discrimination by reason of disability.” Following the Decision, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with which ADAPT has cultivated a close collaborative relationship, advised all 50 states to develop Olmstead Plans to move people out of institutions and into the community with all necessary services and supports. 
-To date, five letters have gone out from HHS to state medicaid directors and governors. And to date, according to ADAPT activists, New York State has done nothing to comply with the Olmstead Decision. 
-At noon Jan. 12, in Albany, one contingent of New York ADAPT invaded the executive offices of Governor George Pataki, while in New York City, the other contingent gathered in front of 633 Third Ave., the luxury office building which houses the New York City executive offices of the Governor. 
-Nadina LaSpina of NYC-New York ADAPT said, “We will listen to no more excuses. We are here to demand that New York State develop an Olmstead Implementation Plan by Oct. 2001. And that the plan be developed with the full participation of our community — all disabilities. We demand that Governor Pataki instruct his Medicaid Director to begin immediately identifying people who are now in institutions and who want to come out — at least one percent of the currently institutionalized population must be identified.” 
-Daniel Robert, also of NYC-New York ADAPT, added, “We want Pataki to make sure that all Medicaid offices throughout the state know that fiscal assessment is dead! End of story!” The fiscal assessment law required Social Service case workers to institutionalize any client the cost of whose home care exceeded 90 percent of what nursing home care would cost. That law expired in June 2000. 
-The protestors lined up on the sidewalk in front of the building, holding signs reading, “Institutions are prisons,” and “Is being disabled a crime?” and chanting “Free our people now!” and “Implement Olmstead now!” The group negotiated with Pataki’s staff and an agreement was reached that they would fax ADAPT’s demands to the office in Albany and ask that an answer be faxed back ASAP. 
-When, after an hour, no answer was forthcoming, the protestors, in wheelchairs, blocked the entrances to the building. They told police that they would not move until they got the answer from Albany in writing. Police threatened to arrest them. Steve Ferchak, veteran activist, said, “You can arrest me if you want. I’m not moving.” 
-“The others echoed this sentiment. As an accessible paddy wagon appeared at the curbside, at approximately 3:30 p.m., the answer the ADAPT protestors had been waiting for was brought to them by Captain Ward of the 17th Precinct. 
-At about the same time in Albany, Pataki’s press officer agreed, on behalf of the Governor, to set up a meeting between New York ADAPT, the Governor’s office and the state medicaid director within two weeks.