Community organizing is a central theme to every successful movement. The movement for people with disabilities to attain greater protections both legislatively and through the courts is only possible thanks to the groundswell of support from dedicated community members across the nation. Unfortunately, while great strides have been made in the fight for disability justice, there is still a long way to go. This page features some of the relevant cases from the City of Detroit that could play a role in dictating protections and precedents for years to come.
If you have a case that you’d like support on, please feel free to reach out to us. We can’t immediately guarantee we’ll be able to dedicate resources, but we will do our best to support how we can.
Jones v. City of Detroit
Detroit Case No. 17-11744
Appellate Case No. 192346
Next hearing date: Wednesday, June 10th at 1pm at the 6th District Court of Appeals
IMPORTANT UPDATE: thanks to the flood of calls from concerned citizens like you, we have achieved a TREMENDOUS VICTORY for social justice. For the first-time ever, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has received approval from the case’s panel of judges to make available a live audio stream of the oral arguments from the Wednesday June 10th appeal. Join us at 1pm by clicking here. This is a historic moment that couldn’t happen without public pressure from you all, and we hope you will join us digitally for what we hope will be a decision that benefits all of us fighting for justice.
S. Baxter Jones, also known as Baba Baxter, is a wheel-chair user from Detroit who was peacefully protesting the City of Detroit’s water shutoffs years ago when the decision was made by the city to arrest these protesters. In the process of those mass arrests, Baba Baxter sustained severe, permanent injuries at the hands of the City of Detroit by way of excessive force from Detroit PD and its violation of both civil and constitutional rights.
A case was brought forth against the City of Detroit on behalf of Baba Baxter, and you can find more details about the case here and by watching the video below:
The People Affected
By failing to properly accommodate Baba Baxter by transporting him via an ill-equipped police van that put his body under great duress, the City of Detroit and Detroit PD engaged in disability discrimination and violated a series of ADA laws and Michigan’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.
This case is important because it exists at the intersection of disability justice, anti-Blackness/systemic racism, and unjust policing practices that continue to go unaddressed across the country. Success in this case would help set a precedent to ensure protections for people with disabilities while also pushing cities and entities like their police departments to engaged in procedures that truly pursue the safety of all peoples without discrimination.
The City of Detroit has attempted to have the entire case dismissed, and a federal hearing will take place on June 10th in Cincinnati, OH at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public access to the hearings does not seem available (something we take great issue with).
More importantly, oral arguments will be heard on June 10th to decide of police officers and the City of Detroit’s government are entitled to a rule of law known as “qualified immunity” which guards them against responsibility for harm inflicted in the line of duty. Should the judges rule with the City, this could set a dangerous precedent for the extent to which the state is able to harm people with disabilities throughout America, particularly in a time where the state violence against marginalized people is well-documented.
Currently, a collection of organizers is working to help support Baba Baxter in this important case. Follow Advocates for Baba Baxter on Facebook for updates, and reach out to us at email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.