BG: ADAPT Disability Advocates Demonstrate Against Electroshock Practices at Rotenberg Center

NYAPRS Note: See details of ADAPT’s protests at and TV coverage of abusive ‘aversive therapy’ practices at the highly controversial Rotenberg Center where one child was, according to this mother, ‘terrorized’ at More tomorrow

Protesters Demonstrate Against Electroshock Therapy In Canton
By Travis Andersen Boston Globe October 31, 2016

CANTON — More than 100 demonstrators gathered Monday afternoon in front of a controversial school to demand that it stop administering skin shock treatments to special needs students.

The protesters converged on the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center shortly after 3:30 p.m., organizers said.

“They’re torturing disabled individuals,” said demonstrator Marilee Adamski-Smith, 40, of Milwaukee, a member of the national advocacy group, ADAPT, which organized the protest.

As she spoke, several demonstrators using wheelchair were speaking with Canton police on the front steps of the center.

Canton police Chief Ken Berkowitz said on the grounds of the property Monday night that no demonstrators were arrested, but several people will be cited for trespassing and other offenses.

He said it was not clear how many people will be cited.

At one point, Berkowitz said, about 20 demonstrators tried to enter the building, including five or six who “aggressively” tried to gain entry.

Police held them back and no one was hurt, according to Berkowitz.

“Overall it was peaceful,” he said of the protest. “But there was some pushing and shoving. We were trying to move people away from the door. The Rotenberg Center was obviously worried that there wouldn’t be emergency access for their students and residents.”

He said police have worked well in the past with other protest groups who demonstrated against the center, but the organizers Monday did not cooperate with law enforcement.

The Rotenberg Center said in a statement that the school was “dismayed by the tactics taken by these protestors. They aggressively tried to enter our school buildings and for several hours made it impossible to transport the students we serve home so they could relax after their classes and enjoy their dinner together in the homes they live in, in area neighborhoods. Parents of students tried to talk with the protestors about allowing the children and adults to go home, but to no avail.”

The school thanked police for their assistance and said the center “is a community based special education school with off-site residential homes where small groups of students and clients live together; we educate and treat people living with disabilities as an alternative to nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals.”

The Rotenberg Center has long faced criticism for administering skin shock therapy to some adolescent patients with behavioral and mental health issues.

The center, along with family members of some former patients, has defended its practices as necessary for helping clients who are in danger of harming themselves or others.

The demonstration appeared to be wrapping up early Monday evening and signage was visible in the parking lot, including one placard that read, “There Is Hope, Justice, Freedom.”

Demonstrator Beatrice Bell, of Dorchester, who works for Spare Change, a newsletter for the homeless, said she came to the protest as a show of solidarity.


Judge Rotenberg Center, Massachusetts targeted by disability rights group ADAPT

The disability rights group, famous for its colorful protests, has descended on Boston
By Matt Stafford Blasting News November 1, 2106

The Judge Rotenberg Center, a school infamous for using electroshocks on students has become the target of #Disability rights group #ADAPT as part of a broader campaign to improve life for disabled people.

Disability rights groups hostile to Judge Rotenberg Center

The Judge Rotenberg Center is a school in Canton, Massachusetts. The school is marketed towards parents of severely developmentally disabled children, particularly those with a propensity towards self-harm. Many students are ethnic minorities. What makes the school unique is also what critics, from disability rights activist groups like ADAPT, to President Obama, say makes it dangerous: It subjects students to electrical shock and is the only school that does so. Two weeks ago, the state of Massachusetts asked the court to lift its ban on regulation of the practice. However, many parents defend the school.

On paper, Judge Rotenberg Center only uses shocks from devices called Graduated Electronic Decelerators, when a student is doing something that is potentially dangerous towards themselves or others, which is the only legally permitted purpose of the shocks. In practice, according to critics, the school tends to us them for any random reason. Reasons include talking out of turn, a person covering their ears, even panicking when they see someone get shocked. The school says the shocks are painless and that they are better than a cocktail of psychotropic meds, but ADAPT, former students, staff and a video of a shock session that the school tried to keep from being admitted into evidence during a lawsuit, tend to disagree. They claim that the treatment is torture and the school violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Warning, this video is disturbing.

ADAPT lists demands of the Judge Rotenberg Center

At least 100 members of ADAPT took to the streets at Halloween to demand that the school cease using the electrical shocks, eventually blocking the entrance of the school that has been condemned by the United Nations. They used the holidays focus on scary imagery to draw attention to what they say are real life horrors disabled people face in the Judge Rotenberg Center. Some of them even showed up in costume.

“You see things like this in a Halloween House of Horrors, but they are the reality in JRC all year long,” said Nancy Hyson-Houghton, an organizer with ADAPT’s Massachusetts chapter.

ADAPT further demands that the state of Massachusetts and the Food and Drug Administration make the practice of electrical shock illegal in any and all circumstances. The FDA is currently debating banning the practice and has been since April.

ADAPT criticized by Judge Rotenberg Center

ADAPT's direct actions have always drawn criticism and this case is no exception. The group, famous for being confrontational, was criticized by the center. The center said that blocking the entrance created a fire hazard and made it hard for students who wanted to get home at the end of the day. Several members of ADAPT allegedly attempted to force their way into the building.

Several people have been charged with trespassing and the chief of police threatened to arrest the group. However, a member of the group made a comment on Facebook that summed up their reaction to the threat.

"Like that scares ADAPTers." #News