Category Archives: Ethan’s Law

Issue Monday – #JusticeForEthan

The Road We’ve Shared is dedicated to the memory and legacy of Ethan Saylor

After all - 

he’s the reason we’re here.

When Ethan Saylor was killed on January 12th, 2013 by off-duty sheriff’s deputies moonlighting as mall security, our world changed.  We all reacted in our own way – but along the way we found each other.  The Road was created as a way to bring parents and caregivers of adults who have Down syndrome together.  During the #JusticeForEthan campaign we realized that the existing Ds groups cater more to parents of young children.  We needed our own place to discuss the issues that affect our adult children.

The Road is just one of the positive things that has come out of this tragedy.


Another is the advocacy that Patti Saylor has accomplished in the past year and a half.  Because of her tireless efforts, things are changing in Maryland and across the country.  Patti recently reflected on events in a letter to the editor of the Frederick News Post:

The Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions have embraced the need for change and with others have developed a comprehensive program of training new recruits and in servicing current officers. The city of Frederick, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, Harford, Caroline, Prince George’s, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, and other municipalities have actively sought out training and activities to improve relationships with community members with disabilities, the goal being safety and positive outcome for all when law enforcement personnel intersect with people with intellectual/developmental disabilities or mental health issues.

The governor of Maryland established the Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities. The commission is diligently working with representatives of law enforcement, Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland emergency medical system, Maryland Public Transportation, self-advocates, the Maryland court system, and state disability organizations and advocates to make systemic change.

The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division is investigating the circumstances of my son’s death. The Justice Department’s Special Litigation Unit is investigating the policies and practices of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights held a hearing on the issue of the safety of people with disabilities interacting with law enforcement. I testified at this hearing along with others committed to this issue.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police reached out to me and other advocates to assist in updating their policies.

The ARC of the United States received a grant from the Justice Department to create the National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability.

She is currently working hard on the November election.  The Sheriff who is responsible for the the events following Ethan’s death: the internal investigation, the lack of transparency, the lack of training, and a general attitude of accepting no responsibility – is up for re-election.   Patti is making it part of her mission to try to dethrone him – at a great personal cost.  Because of her stance and endorsement of the Sheriff’s opponent – Karl Bickel, she has been personally attacked.  

We rallied behind her – but blaming Patti for her son’s death is just a symptom of the bigger problem:

Personal Attacks – #JenkinsMustGo – #JusticeForEthan – Stephanie Holland 9/16/14

According to Jenkins, Best to Keep a Person With Down Syndrome at Home – Mardra Sikora 9/22/14

Continuing the March

We here at The Road will continue to do the work.  We’ll keep fighting for adults with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities – in Ethan’s name.  All people should have the right to BE in the community without being afraid for their very lives.  

We Will Not Forget! #JusticeForEthan

Some of the posts about Ethan on The Road

Personal Attacks – #JenkinsMustGo – #JusticeForEthan

Freedom of Speech

One of the ways we express ourselves in our society is by writing a letter to the editor (LTE) of our local newspaper.  Recently, Patti Saylor did just that.  In it, she talked about all the work that has been done since her son was killed in a movie theater by off-duty sheriffs.  His death over the price of a movie ticket was senseless, and brought to light a need for change - 

a change in attitudes, 
a change in understanding, 
and a change in police training.

She listed several ways in which local law enforcement, federal entities, and the private sector across the nation have reacted to her son’s death and pointed out the reluctance of the office involved, the Frederick County Sheriff’s office, to accept any responsibility or work proactively to prevent future tragedies.

These facts bring me to the missed opportunity — all these people and organizations are not blaming the victim. They know changes in policy, practices and training will prevent similar incidents in the future.

Patti’s letter (published September 7th) is well written, polite, and full of facts.

Unfortunately, the reaction to it, printed today, was not so eloquent.

Resorting to Personal Attacks

Anyone can write an LTE.  It’s up to the editor at the newspaper to determine whether it is appropriate for publication.  Some might argue that today’s letter, written by Sheriff Chuck Jenkins’ brother, should not have been published.   On the contrary, I say it’s a perfect example of the smug, self-righteous, arrogant attitude that the Sheriff himself has displayed ever since the men under his watch killed Ethan.
 

I would suggest Patti go to the bathroom, look in the mirror and face the blame. What was she doing that night so important she could not accompany Ethan to the movie? I know we all need time alone, however, she should have known better to send him out in public with someone ill-equipped to handle him. If she couldn’t go, keep him home in his comfort zone or send him with someone properly trained. According to The News-Post, she directed his care provider to leave him alone in the theater, another mistake for which she is to blame. Her poor choices are to blame and she should accept responsibility.

Gary Jenkins resorts to personal attacks on Ethan’s mother to defend his brother.  His opinion, and that’s ALL it is, is completely flawed however.

First of all, he proclaims that “Patti Saylor blames Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.”  If she does, she has never said so publicly.  On the contrary, she has gone out of her way to avoid placing blame.  What she HAS done is advocate strongly for better police training while asking for details about what happened that night.  Jenkins and the Sheriff’s office filed an internal report about the “incident” which was full of holes and NEVER addressed the issue of how Ethan’s larynx was crushed.

Which brings me to another problem with Gary Jenkins’ argument:

According to The Frederick News-Post, all witnesses conveyed that security did not act inappropriately or mistreat him in any way.

I’m guessing that Gary has read the report the same as I have.  Based on the report, he is right – witnesses did not report seeing obvious abuse.  

HOWEVER! 

What the Sheriff’s brother, and the rest of the good ole boy network in Frederick County does not say is that the report is flawed:

  1. Witness statements were taken by officers in the same department as those who were involved.
  2. At least one of the officers was still present in the theater when initial statements were given.
  3. Witnesses were re-called – made to appear at the Sheriff headquarters and specifically asked if they saw any of the deputies touch Ethan’s neck (an obvious sign that they knew the cause of his death)
  4. None of the witnesses were able to see what happened once Ethan was taken to the ground – the group was behind a half-wall, hidden from view of any onlookers. 
No one has yet explained how the cartilage in Ethan’s throat was crushed.

So just because witnesses could not see any wrongdoing, does not mean that none exists.   Ethan didn’t do it to himself.  Patti didn’t do it.  Ethan’s healthcare worker who was NOT ALLOWED to enter the theater until after he had been taken down and was unresponsive didn’t do it.

Somebody did.  Somebody who STILL wears a Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy badge did. Somebody knows how it happened and I’m guessing that Chuck AND Gary both know – but they’re not telling.  The only way we may ever find out is if the Sheriff and his Deputies are subpoenaed to testify in the civil case that the Saylor family was forced to file.

Ignorance on a Larger Scale

As a parent of an adult who has Down syndrome, his comments infuriate me.  Not only does his letter espouse false knowledge, it unearths some the outdated attitudes of our society towards people like my son.  Jenkins comments on things he knows nothing about – insinuating that all people with Down syndrome or intellectual disabilities should be locked up at home so that they “remain in their comfort zone” or be accompanied by their parents.   He also passes judgement on whether Ethan’s aide was ‘properly trained.’  His attempt to appear knowledgeable fails miserably.

What he has accomplished by writing this letter is to reveal the worst about his family, and some of the rest of our society.  He has succeeded in re-igniting the fire under parents, like me, who advocate for equitable treatment of adults with intellectual disabilities.  Hopefully, he’s made the case for change and helped Karl Bickel in his quest to replace his brother.

If you’d like to help support Patti in her mission to replace Chuck Jenkins, please read her request and Buy Ethan’s Movie Ticket to support Karl Bickel’s campaign for Sheriff of Frederick County, Maryland.

We Want Change! #JusticeForEthan Continues

We Won’t Give Up, We Won’t GO aWAY!

The latest song from one of my favorite bands reminds me of #JusticeForEthan.  

“Hey, hey, just obey”

That’s the cult of compliance in a nutshell.

“We won’t give up, we won’t go away. 
‘Cause we’re not about to live in this mass delusion.”

This week, Ethan’s mom, Patti Saylor, held a press conference in Frederick, Maryland where she came out in support of Sheriff Chuck Jenkin’s opponent – Karl Bickel. 

Not only has she, and many others, made great strides toward the goal of meaningful training for law enforcement and other public servants, now she’s working on systemic CHANGE in leadership.

Patti won’t give up, and neither will we!

What Do We Want? We Want Change!

“And how we gonna get there? REVOLUTION!”
Across the nation, people are standing up for what they believe in.  That’s what the video is about (In my opinion).  It doesn’t suggest a military or violent response, but urges us to take a look at what’s going on around us and not be afraid to say, “This is not okay” “We want change!” 

And then be prepared to ACT on those feelings.

In addition to her press conference, Patti published a personal plea to those of us who believe that Ethan’s death was completely avoidable.  

When Ethan was killed many people asked in bewilderment: “Why didn’t somebody just buy him a movie ticket?” 

Here’s your chance!

If you would have paid the $10 movie ticket to save Ethan’s life, will you send it to me now?

Jenkins has never been, and has never pretended to be, part of the solution.

I’ve written several times about his arrogance and the fact that he refuses to take any accountability for the actions of his officers.

It’s time for a REVOLUTION in Frederick County and communities like it (Ferguson) that fail to recognize the value of its citizens!  It’s time that we demand a new system – a better system – one that protects all people regardless of race, ability, or any other characteristic deemed “less valuable” by certain members of society.

It’s time to hold those in leadership positions who fail us accountable in the best way we can – VOTE THEM OUT!

I’m so proud of what Patti is doing and grateful that she has found a worthy candidate to replace the bigotry that is currently The Frederick County Sheriff.

If you want to be a part of the #JusticeForEthan REVOLUTION, please go to Karl Bickel’s website and donate the price of a movie ticket $10 

Tell Jenkins and others like him that 

We Want Change!

Let’s stand together on this one

From the director of the film-in-progress: ethan’s law

Picture

Emma and Ethan Saylor

Hello blog readers, my name is Edward Rhodes and I am the director of the documentary Ethan’s Law. 
 
Our intention is to depict accurately the events leading up to the death of Ethan Saylor, the actions taken by Governor O’Malley in response, and the push for legislation providing Maryland Police with training on how to resolve conflicts with people who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. 

So far a committee has been formed and tasked with the job to propose such legislation: the Committee for the inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This committee chaired by Timothy Shriver, President of the Special Olympics, consists of law enforcement officials, lobbyist, health care officials, self-advocates and politicians. 
 
From the very beginning I knew what an important story this was to tell. So many things have fallen in place beyond my control it is obvious this project is an act of God. Throughout the development of this production I am reminded of each step leading to this point.

Starting with my family, as an only child I had no one to compete with for the affection or assets of my parents, which is a gift and a curse. To be honest my parents could never afford another child. I was way too much of a hand-full to divide their attention. They indulged almost every interest giving me an amazing range of experiences. In the journey to understand who I am, I realize that my curiosity has set the stage for my career as a storyteller.

Writing this blog entry also inspires memories and feelings that have been otherwise, for lack of a better word, repressed. My Mother’s college best friend and roommate have a daughter with special needs, Jennifer. Growing up with her I was never truly conscious of her disability. Along with other people, this movie is a gift to her and her parents. 
 
Ethan is a Martyr of the fight against police brutality. 

The events leading up to Ethan’s death resemble a perfect storm.
Trying to remove the emotion from my opinions after reading the witness reports is impossible. I am walking a line in deciding the direction of the movie. There is so much evidence pointing toward abuse, negligence and discrimination that it is unavoidable to conclude his death would have been prevented had those officers had ANY training at all. My focus remains to create a property of education and a tool for change. It seems like every day something else is brought to light illuminating that it is time for change.

Fingers have been pointed in all directions but the fact remains that removing Ethan’s aid from the situation not only transfers responsibility of Ethan’s well being to the officers it prevented Ethan the opportunity to understand the situation therefore creating a scenario designed for failure. If the intention was ever to resolve the conflict peacefully, why would any of those officers believe they would be able to effectively communicate with a person possessing an intellectual disability? and Why would one officer be overheard saying “Guess we’re gonna have to call the boys”? Had the situation escalated to the point in which they needed “back up” before they even spoke with Ethan? 

Whatever their logic, the answer is ultimately reduced to pride. The first thing taught in the Montgomery County C.I.T. (Crisis Intervention Training) program is to defer to the care giver when resolving conflicts with  individuals having special needs. Had Mary been allowed to just give Ethan a  hug she would have had him rapped around her little finger as usual. 
 
My heart goes out to her and the consequence this incident has had on her life. The trauma of this incident has taken the life of one person and completely altered forever the lives of so many others. 
 
Ethan’s love of Law Enforcement sets an ironic tone to this tragedy. Had the Frederick County Sheriffs Department responded to any of the invitations to participate in the C.I.T. program, it is possible that Ethan would have seen his 28th birthday. 

This and so many other reasons are why this training must be made mandatory. Aside from the common sense logic, the issue of liability is also raised. In a similar incident in Montgomery County two officers that acted with excessive force were treated differently in a judicial setting. The officer that had completed the training had a more severe consequence than his partner who had not participated in the program. The reason is simple; the one officer should have known how to better diffuse the situation. 
 
This raises the question but alludes to the reason why none of the officers involved with Ethan’s death face any reprimand or criminal charge even though his death was concluded a homicide. 
 
Recently it seems like everyday a story breaks about police taking advantage of their position. I personally have met and know policemen that are examples of the “good guys” Ethan was so passionately in love with. 

However it is evident that there needs to be better accountability, training and screening procedures for people in law enforcement.

Today we are almost half way to our goal on Kickstarter and with a little over 30days to go I am confident we will gain the support to reach that goal. Unfortunately new costs have presented themselves and we need your help more than ever. The two most important things about making a movie are the images and the sound. It is imperative that we be able to hire an audio mixer to  handle some of our interviews. If anyone knows any production professionals that would be willing to donate their time please contact me through the Kickstarter page.

 - Edward Rhodes




The Road We’ve Shared is dedicated to the life and legacy of Ethan Saylor and as such, it is our priority to share all news and events that involve his life and the consequences of his death.  We plan to share a more in-depth interview with Edward Rhodes in the near future. Feel free to share any questions for him as the director of the film Ethan’s Law in the comments and if received in time we will include them.   – Mardra

Stages of Grief

In the past year, I’ve gone through all of the five stages of grief.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

At first, I couldn’t believe it had happened.  Of course I thought it was a mistake.  I spent most of the past twelve months bouncing back and forth between depression and anger.   It seemed like the anger was the only thing that pulled me out of the depression.  I’ve also done a lot of bargaining.  “If I work hard enough to get “justice”….

Continue reading Stages of Grief

#Toast4Ethan

By Stephanie Holland
My mother always told me that as you go through life, no matter what you do, or how you do it, you leave a little footprint, and that's your legacyI’ve been thinking a lot about the word “legacy” today.   It seems so incredible to me that we could be talking about Ethan – someone I knew – someone’s child, grandchild, nephew, brother – someone the same age as Josh – in terms of his “legacy” already.
I’ve been scouring the internet to try to find something that made sense to me.  The first thing that jumped out at me was this quote.

“as you go through life, no matter what you do, or how you do it, you leave a little footprint,  and that’s your legacy.”

That I can understand.  As human beings we all have an effect on the world and people around us.   Ethan was no different.   Looking through old photographs I’m reminded how he left a “little footprint” on my life and Josh’s.   If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have one of my best friends.  If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have known where to go for support and understanding when Josh was born.  Our lives would be different, less, if we hadn’t met Ethan.   He certainly didn’t plan that, but I’m grateful for the little footprints he made for us to follow.

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”

Of course, most of the stuff out there on the internet about legacy applies to people who work at building a legacy, or have money to create a legacy.  I think this quote from one of Ethan’s favorites puts the word in a better context.

Ethan’s legacy is one of positive change.   He changed the people who knew him – and so many that he never met.   Thanks to the brave efforts of his family, Ethan’s footprints have created a path for advocacy and social change.  But, it’s hard for me to think of the shy little blonde -haired kid I used to know in those terms.

So today I toast what Ethan’s memory means to me:

*Here’s to Ethan and the little footprints he left us to follow.
May we always remember to show those we love how we feel,
Stand up for what is right,
And be grateful for the people who love and understand us no matter what.

Thank you Ethan. *

A Difficult week ahead

PictureThis is bound to be a difficult week for the Saylor family.

I can’t imagine how painful it will be to go through Ethan’s birthday (January 9th) and the anniversary of his death (January 12th).

Remembering Ethan and his legacy

On Thursday we’ll be participating in a “virtual toast” to Ethan by using the hashtag #Toast4Ethan on Twitter and everything else we post.

Won’t you join us? ?


*Update

For 2015 and the second anniversary, you can join us for an online vigil.   Post your pictures of candles on Facebook.