Do you know the name?
I didn't. And that fact makes me mad. Really mad. Let me tell you what I now know about Brent Martin. He was a gentle man with an intellectual disability, not long past his 23rd birthday. He was out in the community, perhaps on his way home, perhaps on his way out, I don't know, all I know is that he was causing no one no harm. He was noticed ... no strike that ... his disability was noticed by three other young men, 21, 17 and 16. The 17 year old bet the 16 year old 5 pounds that he couldn't take Brent down with a single punch. Seems the boy gang had been taking boxing lessons, and suddenly there was a chance for target practice.
The autopsy showed that Brent didn't fight back, that he was brutally beaten and then left to die, half naked, on the side of the road. Struck 18 times in the head, there was little left for his body to do but shut down and die.
Two of the his attackers, 21 and 16, have admitted to the attack. One is fighting it in the courts, even as we speak, and is quoted as saying something like, "I'm not going down for a muppet."
Brent Martin is dead.
Because he had an intellectual disability.
And I didn't know. Never heard a report, never had it come up in conversation at work, never had any idea. I found out because I write for OUCH the Britsh disability site and they had a small notice where I was able to click to get the larger story. And there it was.
Do you remember when Matthew Shephard was killed by a couple of guys in Wyoming, beaten and left to die in the middle of the prairie? I do. I remember the protest from the gay community, I remember the protest of all right thinking people. I remember the anger about how someone so young could be killed in such a cruel manner, just because he was gay, he was different. That protest spoke loudly. It said, 'We value our own, we will face you down."
Was there a single protest of disabled people outside the courtroom where they discuss Brent Martin's murder? His beating death. His slaughter. I don't know, maybe there was. Well I am going to protest. I am going to talk to people about Brent Martin.
So next week, all week, I'm going to wear a black armband. I want a week of people asking me what I'm in mourning for. And I'm going to tell them.
I'm going to tell them about Brent Martin.
I'm going to tell them that I oppose violence against people with disabilities.
I'm going to tell them that the disability communty mourns its own.
I'm going to tell them that disphobia (prejuducie against disability) is as unacceptable as racism, sexism and homophobia.
It's only one week.
It's only one arm band.
But I feel I must do something.
If you want to join me for next week, let me know. If you have other ideas for how we can protest let me know.
No more silence.
No more letting them think that we don't care when one of our own is beaten to death and left to die on the side of the street.
We couldn't be with Brent Martin as he lay they dying, but we can be with him now.
Brent Martin is dead.