When you’re Black and autistic and the police are anti-Black and ableist, you’re in trouble.
Recently in the news, there was a story about a behavioral therapist by the name of Charles Kinsey was shot by police accidentally while trying to protect his autistic client, 21-year-old Arnoldo Rios.
When asked about why he shot Kinsey, the police officer in question first said, “I don’t know.” It was later he mentioned that he was trying to shoot Rios, who had escaped from an assisted living center, because the officer thought he was going to attack Kinsey.
Despite the fact that Kinsey wasn’t the actual target, it still did not make it better. Because in the end, the cops still wanted to shoot someone who is marginalized.
This is not the first time that police officers wanted to perpetuate violence against disabled folks. In another case from 2013, a 22-year-old man by the name of Gilberto Powell, who was also Miami-based, suffered police brutality after officers attacked him for having a “bulge” in his bag — that turned out to be a colostomy bag. This is one of many more incidents where the intersections of anti-blackness and ableism come into play.
Often, people are told that police officers are here to “protect and serve,” but what they do instead is invoke fear and perpetuate a variety of -isms that result in them using violence to assert their power. They are often not equipped or trained well enough to help a disabled person in crisis mode — instead, they look to the gun for control.
So here’s the bottom line: just because the autistic person was the officer’s target, this does not make it okay. As someone who is also autistic, I could’ve been in Rios’ position. And who knows, the police officer would’ve had better aim. Black bodies and disabled bodies are the least valued. Intersect the two and then you are are invisible from both communities.
This is not okay.