Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

One of the very first community centers run by and for psychiatric survivors is at risk of losing its funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I know about the roots of this user-run space, because as a senior at Harvard College back in the 1970’s, I was placed at Mental Patients Liberation Front as an intern by Phillips Brooks House, Harvard’s social service group.
MPLF, with the leadership of the late Judi Chamberlin, author of a book on empowered mental health centers, created the community gathering locations that eventually became the Ruby Rogers Center in Somerville, Massachusetts. Here are some of the highlights as we created the center:

  • In the mid-1970’s a handful of us in MPLF came together for weekly mutual support. We were gratified to see that Judi’s book, On Our Own, was published. We often met at the storefront of an early activist space, Vocations for Social Change, near Central Square, Cambridge.
  • For a while we created a center at Stone Soup Art and Poetry storefront in Boston, thanks to the generosity of Jack Powers, proprietor. I recall briefly meeting poet Allen Ginsberg when he visited Jack. Activist Ted Chabasinski, survivor of forced electroshock, also visited.
  • Thanks to a grant from Haymarket Fund, we established an office and community center across the street from Boston Common.
  • As a group we met with state-employees at Department of Mental Health headquarters to explain our deep concerns about human rights violations and the need for humane alternatives.
  • About at that time, 1981, I left Boston, but the MPLF members won an agreement from Massachusetts to create a community center that was eventually named after Ruby Rogers, one of the early psychiatric survivor plaintiffs in a key lawsuit against forced psychiatric drugging. I saw Ruby, a charismatic African American psychiatric survivor, who I heard spoke up while locked up in a psychiatric ward, supported by MPLF organizing and a petition by other folks who were locked up.
  • During the three decades since then I have been very delighted to hear that the Ruby Rogers Center, keeping alive the name of MPLF, has continued to do great work. You can read about the details here.

Now the center is in danger of being eliminated by DMH, even though there is a need more than ever for independent living centers run by and for people diagnosed with mental health issues. Not only are such alternatives cost effective for taxpayers, anyone may someday need to have such a welcoming place for their own well being. If not you, then perhaps a loved one may benefit.

I remember a few years ago when I was chatting with a employee of the small, activist-friendly foundation, Resist. They were unfamiliar with our movement, but I knew they were located in Somerville. I asked them if they were familiar with the Ruby Rogers Center, and it turns out that was right across the street. Perfect to illustrate how our movement was widespread but little known! We got the small grant for MindFreedom International, and I recommend other grassroots groups in our movement apply for a Resist grant.

You can read about the Ruby Rogers Center on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/rubyrogercenter/

Thanks to a Facebook post from Harry Agritha, shared by Karen Langley, that alerted me about this. Charlie Carr commented and this brought my attention to the danger, here.

I encourage all those who support the disability and prison justice movements to speak up about the importance of the Ruby Rogers Center, now! I especially call out for support from disability activists in the hundreds of independent living centers, which form the backbone of the funded disability movement in the USA today.

You are invited to join me in emailing a civil but strong message to DMH of Massachusetts via this address: dmhinfo@massmail.state.ma.us

 

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My Return to Sam Bond’s: Stand-up Comedy (Or Should I Say Lean-back) This Saturday

You can download free one-page flier here: oaks-flier-20170225

David W. Oaks drawing by artist Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

Free!

This Saturday:

David Oaks, stand up comic

…or should we say lean back comic

One of many at Bleepin’ Funny,

Sam Bond’s, 407 Blair, Eugene, OR

Saturday, February 25, 2017, 5 pm – 7pm.

Get there early and eat, drink, and tip well!

More info at http://www.sambonds.com/

Or https://www.facebook.com/events/210853359381221/

 

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Disability Movement Tips About Supporting Each Other During Crisis (Like a Trump Presidency)  

 

A Gold Lining: People Are Finally Using the Word, “Revolution”!

 

More Than Ever, Let Us Support MindFreedom International

 

By David W. Oaks

dw-oaks-standingchair-2016

I tried out a “standing chair” during my rehab.

Stand up now & fight back!

“Now” in Lithuanian, my heritage, is “Dabar”!

Dabar!

Last month we watched my nation’s presidential inauguration. The reality of the USA’s catastrophic election started to sink in.

Even if you voted for Donald Trump, my intuition is that your disappointment has already started, dabar.

But I notice a number of gold linings, recently:

A lot more people are starting to use the word “revolution.”

For another, as I have often hoped, the word “normality” is no longer being used much.

We must look, and keep looking, for gold linings. I draw here upon the wisdom of the disability movement, which I have been an activist in for more than four decades. I have especially been a community organizer for deep change in the mental health system.

I am a psychiatric survivor. That is, about 40 years ago, as a working class kid going to Harvard, I ended up in psychiatric institutions five times, where I experienced forced drug injections and solitary confinement. I graduated anyway, in 1977.

I helped start one of the key independent groups in the psychiatric survivor movement, MindFreedom International, and I was the Executive Director for about 25 years. The MindFreedom community, and their hard-working board, have won many campaigns for human rights in mental health care over the years. Four years ago, I fell and broke my neck, and because of complications, I had to retire from working for this superb group.

The past four years I have been doing about two dozen rehab activities, so I have been a bit isolated. But now is a good time to say “I am still alive,” and share what I have learned. My main goal in this note is to encourage everyone to give urgent support to MindFreedom International, which as we will see is going through a crisis of its own.

A Whole Lot of Falling Sure is Happening Now

Yes, Uncle Sam certainly fell down at the voting booth in November. The very same week as the election, the global climate crisis talks in Morocco fell apart. It feels as if the world is paralysed over the climate crisis.

As the author Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” With the world slowly coming to the realisation that we are all, 100%, collectively “disabled,” both physically and mentally, let’s turn to the social change movement led by people with disabilities for some tips about how to get through these trying times, and even to thrive.

Here is something you can tangibly do: Support the crucial nonprofit MindFreedom International, which has worked independently for decades to radically change the mental health system.

We wonder why the world seems to be stuck right now, well one of the reasons is that centuries of psychiatric oppression of new thinking has taken a toll. The population gets these messages: Avoid any reality that is uncomfortable, and thinking outside of the box is often punished.

Because people in the mental health system tend to be so poor, the vast majority of activities in the mental health consumer field have been government-funded: The conferences, the offices, the research.

MindFreedom has maintained its independence, and it is one of the few groups in the mental health advocacy field that receives its funding from everyday people and a few foundations who care about human rights.

While I am proud that MindFreedom International has avoided mental health system funding, I have always tried to maintain a supportive relationship with my many colleagues who work for groups that are funded by the government. But now, especially now, we need groups that are free from mental health system strings. We need groups to be activist.  

MindFreedom is a positive way to challenge this oppression. And now we must all come through for MindFreedom.

We Can All Learn From The Disability Movement

The disability movement is one of the biggest in the world, though we usually think of “disability” as being only about part of the population. Perhaps now we can realize that the disability movement encompasses every single person and their whole life, all the time. Let me explain.

It has been about four years since I fell off a ladder and broke my neck, becoming a quad in a powerchair with some additional challenges: An impaired voice. My fingers that used to type more than a hundred words a minute, and played improvisational piano music for 50 years, now cannot move independently.

For the past few years, I have been doing physical therapy, vocal exercises, and even had a surgical implant in my vocal fold. And now I am coming out of my rehab closet to encourage you to free your minds, and support MindFreedom International with your time and money.

A few days ago, I talked with my friend, the brilliant retired psychologist, Al Galves, of New Mexico. Al is MindFreedom Treasurer, and he reports: “From 2004 when I joined the Board to 2012 when David got hurt, MindFreedom received at least $65,000 a year in membership dues, donations and grants. Since David’s accident we have been limping along on less than $10,000 a year.” I guess that is a kind of compliment for me, but the bottom line is that my accident took quite a toll on MindFreedom.

“This is understandable,” said Al. He went on to say this about the difference between when I worked for MindFreedom and when I retired: “David was spending a lot of his time on membership relations and fundraising. Without a full-time, paid Executive Director we were unable to sustain that kind of income.”

I asked the MindFreedom board how we can all be supportive. Al said: “We are hoping that this appeal to our long-time members, friends and supporters will gain us enough money to rebuild our membership relations and fundraising capacity and return to our previous level of activity.”

Each one of us is called to support MindFreedom with both donations and also your time. Please help MindFreedom immediately. If you need more motivation, here are my top seven reasons why it is time to volunteer and/or donate to MFI now:

  1. Resist Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs! At about the same time as the election, less noticed was this tragedy: The US Congress fell down, too, when it voted overwhelmingly in favor of the multi-billion dollar 21st Century Cures Act. This was a huge bill, but deep down inside it included millions of federal dollars in support of outpatient coercive psychiatric drugging, from what was once called “the Murphy bill.” That’s right, the federal government will now support, with taxpayer dollars, getting a court order and forcing many Americans to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will, while living at home out in the community. Note that this awful idea came from a “small government” politician, Tim Murphy (R-PA). We need independent, activist groups such as MindFreedom to challenge what amounts to chemical warfare. Studies show that this outpatient forced psychiatric drugging is disproportionately done to people of color. #BlackLivesMatter!
  2. Yes, USA Psychiatrists Still Do Involuntary Electroshock! By far my favorite campaigns at MindFreedom were stopping occasional instances of forced electroshock, which is electricity to the brain. Here in the USA, electroshock is usually signed for by the patient, but there is still the use of involuntary electroshock, now and again. Incredibly, sometimes forced shock is done even with a court order on an outpatient basis. For example, direct your search engine to: Ray Sandford. Every Wednesday morning, a van picked him in his group home in Minnesota for another court-ordered involuntary electroshock at a nearby hospital. Ray phoned us for help and we activated thousands and of course won. Want to unite good Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Libertarians? Fight forced shock, and all good Americans of all political persuasions are outraged. All you have to do is prove that forced shock is a reality, such as producing court papers. MindFreedom is the main group to expose and fight this atrocity, which is actually pretty common in poorer countries.
  3. Let’s Support People Who Are Resisting and Escaping Their Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs. Here is a “creative maladjustment” to the absurdity of the USA Congress approving millions for involuntary outpatient psychiatric care: Almost all USA States have these outpatient commitment laws. MindFreedom has over the years supported about a half-dozen American citizens who have pursued their own underground railroad to evade forced outpatient drugging. A weak spot in forced outpatient treatment, is that people can simply leave their region or State to escape. You may read about one of these successful escapes by directing your search engine to this phrase: gabriel hadd mindfreedom. One proponent of forced outpatient drugging knows about this vulnerability, and has even discussed his need for a federal extradition law. But at this time, there is no such law. Yet. Today, there is no known underground railroad for psychiatric survivors. The MindFreedom family supports human rights and can applaud people who create such an underground railroad for themselves, so if anyone could support such a sanctuary movement, it would be MindFreedom. There is even a great name for such a campaign: C/S/X Railroad. Let’s make this support real, by proposing this idea! (Note that I am not on the MFI board, and this is a proposal.)
  4. During a Crisis, Let’s Use Alternative Supports. MindFreedom has pointed the way to common sense, humane options other than corporate mental health. Create your small group for mutual support. At any moment we all can use creative thinking right now, the mind is free! Al Galves said this: “In 2014, 2015 and 2016 MindFreedom held ‘Creative Revolution in Mental Health’ conferences in which we advocated, promoted and supported alternatives to the medical model in mental health. These were well-attended, full of energy and inspiring to those great people who have created these alternatives.”
  5. MindFreedom is for Revolution! For many years, the MindFreedom mission statement has included a call for a “nonviolent revolution.” In fact, the Wikipedia page about “nonviolent revolution” has long included MindFreedom International as a model of a group with that goal. For example, Martin Luther King would say that the salvation of the world may lay in the hands of the “creatively maladjusted.” He repeatedly brought up this theme for more than a decade. MLK said the world was in dire need of an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. This IAACM was a dream of MLK that never became realized. But MindFreedom has made the IAACM real, and the physician psychiatric survivor Patch Adams is the honorary chair. The IAACM will soon launch a new project, for a preview see: http://www.LoveEarthRevolution.org Celia Brown, an African American psychiatric survivor activist, leads the hard-working board of MindFreedom. She said: “We need independent, activist and civil rights groups to challenge mass incarceration, oppressive psychiatric laws and racism that threaten the wellbeing of our people. MindFreedom encourages your voice to liberate mind, body and spirit, create non-violent alternatives and human rights for all. I’m proud to be creatively maladjusted.”
  6. This Grassroots Group Uses Every Donation Effectively! MindFreedom has a very specific and effective goal that can be reached with your donation: A new website. However, MindFreedom has many great ways to use every dollar that is donated to them. Janet Foner, long-time board member and co-founder of MFI, said “Donate to MFI to help us run our campaigns, to help us do another MFI Creative Revolution Conference, and to help us spread the word to new affiliates, etc.” Please help them today. You can support MFI by donating and/or volunteering, especially with the Shield and support calls.
  7. MindFreedom is a Powerful Way to Unite! Even after retiring from MFI’s staff, and now as “just” a member, I find being in touch with MFI is a way to be a part of a great community. One of the biggest challenges for me as an organizer during my time at MindFreedom, is that many of us psychiatric survivors prefer to pursue our own individual paths, like lone wolves. But even lone wolves might benefit now and again by travelling in a pack! I have met so many people who are grateful for MindFreedom putting them in touch with our social change movement. Sue Barnhart, a social worker with more than 30 years experience said, “MindFreedom may be the first organization that people find that offers alternatives to medication, such as education and support.”

To get involved with MindFreedom, see MFI’s website at: http://www.mindfreedom.org

To go directly to the DONATE button on the right side of the home page, click here: http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

To see MFI’s Facebook page, search for MindFreedom International, or go directly here: https://www.facebook.com/MindFreedom-International-33579368821/?fref=ts

Those interested may stay in touch with me: davidwoaks@gmail.com. My blog is at www.davidwoaks.com

Please forward this appeal to support MindFreedom to others who understand the value of free, united minds!

An earlier post was on the same day, February 17, as a General Strike, which turned out to be more of a practice day for May Day. For more info about the General Strike, go here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1190364557743669/

National link:

http://www.strike4democracy.com/

That day was also a very important day for me, February 17, which is the commemoration for Giordano Bruno, the last person to be burnt at the stake in the Inquisition, back in 1600. As readers of my blog know, Bruno is very important to my family, starting with my grandfather.

Here on this blog:

February 17th is a great day for free minds and to remember Giordano Bruno!

On the web:

http://freethoughtalmanac.com/?p=1390

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

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I, David Oaks, PsychoQuad, 1st “Stand-Up Comedy” July 30, 2016, “Bleepin’ Funny” Sam Bond’s Garage, Eugene, Oregon (Both 5 & 10 min versions)

UPDATE: Both a five-minute edited version and a ten-minute full version of my Sam Bond’s Summer 2016 comedy can be found below now for your viewing pleasure. In a while we will post the February 2017 return to the stage, thanks David Zupan, you are a real friend! We have also updated additional info after the videos, including links.

Below, you can watch the both a five-minute and ten-minute video of me, David W. Oaks, getting laughs and a standing ovation, with captions, of my stand-up comedy, Summer 2016.

Before I broke my neck in 2012, I was director of MindFreedom International with more than 40 years as a community organizer. I am a human rights psychiatric survivor activist and I have spoken in a dozen countries. This is my first paid public speaking gig after my fall. I praise the great disability support I receive, “Keep Eugene Weirdest!”

Five-minute version:

Ten-minute version:

This full version of the comedy, with the popular line “Hey you’re all going to die!” can be appreciated by anyone, but includes a few local references:

  • Oregon Country Fair is a huge gathering each July near Eugene in the woods, with thousands of volunteer-participants. I am an Elder there. Just use your search engine to watch images and video of Oregon Country Fair, to try to get an idea of this wild event!
  • George Braddock at OCF, helps organize the huge Ritz sauna there, and is an expert on disability, especially bathrooms. Just search for the following phrase to try to get an idea of George’s imagination: ritz oregon country fair
  • Making a news announcement here, I say I am running against Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR) as a write-in this election, because of Pete’s co-sponsorship of a bill that would increase forced outpatient psychiatric treatment. I call this the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health,” and I wonder if Pete needs psychiatric help, first. You may view news about a visit to Rep. DeFazio’s office by a few of us to make this point, here: http://www.davidwoaks.com/awards-to-pete-defazio-opposing-forced-psychiatric-drugs
  • This public gig was at the monthly stand-up comedy event at a community gathering place, Sam Bond’s Garage. “Bleepin’ Funny” happens every month led by comedian Leigh Anne Jasheway, who can be seen sitting near the front of the crowd. Check the Sam Bond’s website toward the end of each month. On Facebook you may check the page for Leigh Anne Jasheway.
  • Also, on the stage you can see one of my several employees, Ian.
  • I often have creative events at Kesey Square, in downtown Eugene, named for my friend, the late Ken Kesey, local author of the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Search this blog for several events we have held in the square: kesey.
  • For instance, on November 4, 2016: You can read more about this free tour on my blog at: http://www.davidwoaks.com/keep-eugene-weirdest

Below you will find a transcript of my comedy:

First, my five-minute version:

“Bleepin’ Funny Comedy Night” 5 minute version at Sam Bonds; Eugene, Oregon on July 30th, 2016

DAVID OAKS

PsychoQuad

So, everybody, I am David Oaks, PsychoQuad. [applause, cheering]

A funny thing happened on the way up a ladder to get our cat, Bongo.

Now this was in December, 2012,  which you call the end of the Mayan calendar.

Right? I did not believe in that BS.

So my shoes were wet, and in going for Bongo… and, well, I fell.

So Lee Anne Jashaway [hostess for this comedy night] suggested I talk about the worst case scenario.

Hey, you’re all gonna die. [applause, cheering] Thanks.

No, really, the moment I fell I got more labels.

But I had an advantage.

In ancient days, 40 years ago, I was a working class kid going to Harvard

and it flipped me out.

So I ended up in a psychiatric institution five times and it flipped me out.

Alright. So a dozen shrinks diagnosed me as psychotic. It’s true.

That means “psychotic,” that means… [pause]

Hey, bar guy!

Hey, bar guy! If you make a noise, I’ll get your address and be in your life! [applause, cheering]

Is that clear? Alright.  

Anyway, so there I was, now with a psychiatric label.

I’ve had a lot of time to think. 4,000 hours of NPR. [laughter]

alright. My main label is not what you think.

My main label is, I see some of you, “White Older Guy.”

“White Older Guy” or a WOG. [loud laughter] That’s my label.

Now, we’ve had a good run. 10,000 years.

OK, we’re about to leave. We’re shuffling off. Alright.

Alright. Please, please, learn from our mistakes. [loud laughter]

Please. It’s your planet but uh….

So, I do not recommend that you break your neck anywhere. [laughter]

But if you have to break your neck, do it here, Eugene, Oregon.

And my goal now, I want to be the weirdest in the world.

Weirdest in the world!  

You heard about Mohammed Ali? “Greatest.”

I want to be weirdest.

And I say we all in Eugene… Screw Portland. [laughter]

What do you mean, “Keep Portland Weird”?

Keep us weirdest!

Thanks much.

[loud cheering, standing ovation]

Here is the full ten-minute version:

[revised 10/31/16]

“Bleepin’ Funny Comedy Night” 9.25 min. version at Sam Bonds; Eugene, Oregon on July 30th, 2016

DAVID OAKS

[applause] Ian’s great. Thank you, Ian. Let’s hear it for Ian. [applause, cheering]

These guys are amazing. I have about eight employees, and they’re great. Thank you.

So, everybody, I am David Oaks, PsychoQuad. [applause, cheering]

So, ah, so really will we find something funny here?

A funny thing happened on the way up a ladder to get our cat, Bongo.

Now this was in December, 2012,

which you call the end of the Mayan calendar.

Right? I did not believe in that BS.

So my, uh, shoes were wet and in going for Bongo… and, well, I fell.

So Lee Anne Jashaway [hostess for this comedy night] suggested I talk about the worst case scenario.

Hey, you’re all gonna die. [applause, cheering] Thanks.

No, really, the moment I fell I got more labels.

But I had an advantage.

In ancient days, 40 years ago, I was a working class kid going to Harvard and it flipped me out.

So I ended up in a psychiatric institution five times and it flipped me out.

Alright. So a dozen shrinks diagnosed me as psychotic. It’s true.

That means “psychotic,” that means… [pause]

Hey, bar guy!

Hey, bar guy. If you make a noise, I’ll get your address and be in your life! [applause, cheering]

Is that clear? Alright.  

Anyway, so there I was now with a psychiatric label.

I’ve had a lot of time to think. 4,000 hours of NPR. [laughter]

Alright. My main label is not what you think.

My main label is, I see some of you, “White Older Guy.”

“White Older Guy” or a WOG. [loud laughter] That’s my label.

Now, we’ve had a good run. 10,000 years.

Ok, we’re about to leave. We’re shuffling off. Alright.

Alright. Please, please, learn from our mistakes. [loud laughter]

Please. It’s your planet but uh….

So the number one group to help me

over the last 42 months is surprising:

It is Oregon Country Fair. [cheering] They win.

I don’t know if they were aware they were competing,

but wow I mean, you have got Debra, my wife, who is way ahead

ah, accessibility workers, you name it.

My bathroom is by George Braddock at the Ritz.

I mean wowie zowie.

So, I do not recommend that you break your neck anywhere. [laughter]

It is a tough way to be surrounded by great people like Ian and Emily.

But if you have to break your neck, do it here, Eugene, Oregon.

And my goal now, I want to be the weirdest in the world.

Weirdest in the world!

You heard about Mohammed Ali? “Greatest.”

I want to be weirdest.

And I say we all in Eugene… Screw Portland. [laughter]

What do you mean, “Keep Portland Weird”?

Keep us weirdest.

Alright. So tomorrow I’ll be at Kesey Square.

So if you want some weird fun.

But wrapping up my eight minutes: Let me tell ya that, during the “Sunday Streets” especially at 3 PM.

I have a news announcement. All right.

I’ve known [Rep.] Pete DeFazio [D-OR] for three decades.

Pete is great. But the pressure has gotten too big.

Pete DeFazio. You are all invited to tell him you heard it here.

I am running against Pete as a write-in candidate.

David Oaks. O A K S. No E.  Now you can tell Pete.

My reason is: “Pete, you’ve become the Bill Cosby of mental health.”

Repeat this joke. It’s a funny joke. [laughter]

“Pete, David Oaks says you have become the Bill Cosby of mental health.” Come on everybody. Try it out. Come on. Try it. Be revolutionary. [laughter] Try 1, 2, 3.

“Pete, you have become the Bill Cosby of mental health.

“According to David Oaks

“According to David Oaks… who is running against you.”

So, Pete, get some psychiatric help.

That’s from your psycho quad friend. By the way,

Lee Anne, you lead me. Thank you. [cheering]

[inaudible] Thanks much. You’re all so funny. I’ve enjoyed it.

We have enjoyed you for months. Thanks much.

[cheering, standing ovation]

[revised 10/31/16]

To stay in touch, please get on the email list which you can do on the right side of this blog.

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Keep Eugene Weirdest! “We’re the Crazy Ones?”

This Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 — Free Walking Tour

Mark Roberts is Old Slug Queen and Disability Activist.

Mark Roberts is Old Slug Queen and Disability Activist.

Keep Eugene Weirdest!

“We’re the crazy ones?”

Your tour guides: Slug Queen Mark Roberts (wearing Donald Trump mask), David Oaks, Michael Hejazi, Ian McTeague, R. Drake Ewbank and David Zupan.

 

 

  • 1:30 pm: Intro & icebreaker start at Kesey Square.
  • 2 pm: Tour walks east on Broadway to office of Rep. Peter DeFazio. Deliver humorous awards objecting to his co-sponsorship of bill that supports more outpatient involuntary psychiatry.
  • 3 pm: Walk back to Kesey Square for open mic.

Modeled after the First Friday Art Walk, this totally independent amplified peaceful tour is for fun, but there is a serious side. Rep. Peter DeFazio has supported H.R. 2646, a huge mental health bill. The worst part is federal support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric care. Rep. DeFazio claims this will not emphasize forced drugging. But the tour guides know otherwise.  In fact, David Oaks is running for Peter’s seat as a write in.

Free. Sponsored by International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.

David W. Oaks drawing by artist Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

Organizer David Oaks (pictured on left) is a psychiatric survivor activist www.davidwoaks.com davidwoaks@gmail.com Michael Hejazi is a mental health counselor in Eugene www.michaelhejazi.ca Ian McTeague is a local socialist organizer and IWW member. David Zupan is a community organizer media activist, a leader for the new Homegrown Community Radio, www.kepw.org. Mark Roberts is a long-time disability human rights activist and Old Slug Queen.

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Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)

Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)
Rep. Pete DeFazio looks a bit grumpy.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, a progressive who has represented us in Eugene, Oregon since 1987. I have supported him, even when he has been grumpy. Now I am a write-in candidate to replace Pete.

Update 22 October 2016: At the bottom you will now find a rebuttal from Rep. DeFazio. 

The main alternative paper here in Eugene, Oregon ran my letter to the editor about why I am running (or rolling) as write-in candidate to replace Rep. Pete DeFazio.

Eugene Weekly, October 6, 2016:

MENTAL HEALTH LAWS 

Rep. Pete DeFazio sadly co-sponsored the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in 42 years of human rights activism. HR 2646 is more than 100 pages long, so mainly lobbyists seem to know the details. The worst part is that this bill extends federal financial support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment.

In other words, Americans living peacefully in their own homes could be court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will. I call this approach the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.”

I have supported Pete for decades and interacted with Pete personally several times. He’s always been kind of grouchy. That is OK; everyone has a different style. But if Pete legislates for involuntary psychiatry despite many constituents trying to explain why this is horrifying, then we have the right to ask, “Has Pete ever had a mental health check-up himself?” If not, will he?

Those of us with psychiatric labels appear to be one of the last groups that get thrown under the bus, by both Democrats and Republicans. I hope the Senate stops the bill.

Following the revolutionary Micah White’s strategy, I have decided to place my name as a write-in candidate for Congress.

David Oaks, Eugene

Update News:

Your feedback, questions, support are encouraged via the public comment area at the end of this blog. Also, please use Rep. Pete DeFazio’s website to ask about this topic. Even though I hope much of mu blog is humorous, I do want to take the moral road about elections and mental health. Please ask Pete to do the same, because this bill will probably be back in some version or other.

By coincidence, today I was also on the teleconference for the National Counsel on Independent Living Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee. Thankfully, we heard a report that the US Senate has not acted to vote for this Murphy bill. The Senate has not taken pieces of the Murphy bill to become amendments in a new mental health bill, either.

Because of the election next month, Congress is highly unlikely to pass any big bill about mental health. Of course we should stay vigilant. But mainly we should be prepared for the new session in 2017.

I said on the teleconference that we need to move from a quiet, group-oriented, Washington D.C. beltway, Facebook-based campaign to a transparent, national, people-power approach. Remember our mantra: Nothing about us without us! We need to learn from past disability campaigns that we need thousands of folks all over the country to not only stop Murphy, but to also win ratification of the historic UN treaty for disability rights.

Here are more places to learn about some of these issues:

Resource links:

From my earlier blog entries

Other links

On October 20, Eugene Weekly published a response from Rep. DeFazio:

MENTAL HEALTH PROGRESS

In the Oct. 6 edition of EW, local activist David Oaks claimed that legislation that I co-sponsored, along with 207 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, would force “Americans living peacefully in their own homes” to take psychiatric drugs under court order. This is simply not factually accurate. The bill, H.R. 2646, includes language that supports assisted outpatient therapy (AOT) programs for those within the community who are found to be mentally unstable and unwilling to seek voluntarily treatment, posing a serious threat to themselves and others. AOT is usually in the form of case management and personal therapy programs and does not necessarily require medical intervention. As I hope Mr. Oaks is aware, Oregon law already authorized AOT and Oregon’s statute is clear: AOT does not include forced medication. H.R. 2646 passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 422-2. This common sense legislation was a huge step forward in improving our mental health system, and I’m proud to be a co-sponsor.

Peter DeFazio, 4th Congressional District Candidate, Eugene

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