As part of a nationwide Disability Day of Mourning (DDOM), disability rights advocates across New York State will be holding a virtual vigil on March 1st to honor the lives of disabled people murdered by their families and caretakers.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), which tracks these cases, has compiled a list of over 1600 reported murders of people with disabilities by relatives or caregivers over the last 40 years. The total number of killings is likely higher than the amount which are reported in news media. This problem is made worse by irresponsible news coverage which presents these murders as the sympathetic acts of loving and desperate parents, by a justice system that often gives a lighter sentence to a parent who kills a disabled child, and by the dangerous cultural prejudice that says a disabled life is not worth living.

ASAN held the first Disability Day of Mourning in 2012 as a response to the murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California, by his mother. ASAN has continued to organize the event each year, partnering with other disability rights groups including Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, ADAPT, and the American Association of People with Disabilities. Disability Day of Mourning is a national event, with 30-40 participating cities each year.

Little public attention is paid to the disabled victims of these violent acts. Media coverage and public discourse about such killings frequently justify them as “understandable” and sometimes “merciful,” rather than appropriately condemning these crimes and those who commit them. The national Disability Day of Mourning is a time for the disability community to commemorate the many lives cut short. By honoring disabled victims of murder and celebrating the lives that they lived, these vigils send a message that disability is not a justification for violence.

A vigil for people across New York State will be held online via Zoom and Facebook Live, and will begin at 3:30 pm on March 1st. The event is being organized by Not Dead Yet, the New York Association on Independent Living, and Aging NY.

For more information, view the event details at You can directly register for the Zoom webinar using the link