Department of Navel Gazing: My Year in Blogging and some Highlights

I have written 283 blog posts this year (so far!). Last December, I went on an official 6-week hiatus in order to finish my book, then came back on 2/12 in order to talk about the consequences of debating truth-claims about abuse in public.

In 2013, my highest monthly viewership was about 17,000. In 2014, I had 4000 in February, 40000 in March, 17000 in April, between 25000-30000 every month since. The Daniel Handler story drew an extra 20000+ views to the blog in the first few days after I posted it (this post has 23000 views now). I say views instead of readers because at least some of y’all read me regularly, for which I am both humbled and grateful. It’s the regular readers that push me to keep writing and to try and get better.

Here are some posts from 2014 that I especially like and that you might have missed.

Guest Posts – I had three guest posts this year. I have no guest post policy and turn down about 99% of requests for guest posts (most of which are commercial in nature). But every so often, something special comes along:

Disability: Discourse, Representation, Violence

On Writing:

  • I talk about the consequences of Hyperscribal Society. What does it mean that we’re all writing so much so much of the time?
  • I get asked a lot about whether starting a blog is a good way to get noticed as a writer. I have no idea. But I do have advice for readers – share from the bottom up. It’s great to share the latest brilliant utterances of Famous Writer, but it’s better to share the brilliant utterances of the person who isn’t famous yet.
None of these hit my top-10 blogs for the year, but all of them I think deserve another look.

Thanks for reading!

Line of Duty Deaths in 2014. Two Narratives.

There are two narratives about the police that I’ve been hearing a lot lately.


One is that police “all the time” get killed by their own service weapon. That means that “he reached for my gun,” or even worse, “I thought he might be reaching for my gun,” merits instant force. We saw that in the Michael Brown case, in which Wilson claimed that Brown was reaching for his gun. We also see it in this case, in which two New Jersey cops shout, “Stop trying to reach my gun” while illegally beating a man. Dash-cam video exonerated the victim and led to an indictment for the officers.


Two – the idea that thanks to the proliferation of high-powered privately owned weaponry, the police must militarize or be dangerously out-gunned.

Here are the 46 deaths (including K9 deaths) by gunfire in the line-of-duty in 2014. Each one is a tragedy. In most cases, thankfully, the criminals were caught and punished.

In 2014, I have found one case in which a police officer was killed with his own weapon. And one case in which a police officer was killed by someone else while a struggle for his weapon was ongoing.

  • Edwin O. Roman-Acevdo – He was killed by a second assailant with a firearm while the first assailant struggled with Roman-Acevedo over his service weapon.
  • David W. Smith was shot and killed with his own service weapon.
It clearly is a genuine risk and one that police are rightly trained to be careful about. It’s something, however, that happens in TV shows frequently, and I suspect our fear of this risk overstates the actual likelihood. The problem is that if the officer can claim any kind of reasonable fear for his life, the law justifies the officer using deadly force. 
Here’s the FBI data on Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) being killed by their own weapon from 2004-2013. Again, it’s a problem, it’s a real risk point, but it’s not an epidemic. “He reached for my gun” cannot be used as a blanket excuse to justify all violent outcomes. 
As for point two, that’s a harder one to research, so I’ll just offer these cases. There are 10 cases that I have found of “military-esque” weapons being used to kill police. Five of the deaths (and possibly 6) came from right-wing terrorists. 
It’s definitely true that criminals can be heavily armed, and police need to be ready to deal with such situations. It is, in fact, why I am a big supporter of SWAT as a vital component of modern policing (and an equally big critic of the over-use of SWAT). There are bad people out there with lots of firepower; police need to be ready. They just need to stop using their military-like equipment in situations that don’t require it.
But here’s the clearest conclusion that I draw from reading these 46 sad cases:

It is WAY too easy for criminals to get firearms. Not high-powered military weapons, but common handguns. So many tragedies in which a “known felon” or “recent parolee” pulled a gun and killed an officer. If #BlueLivesMatter then #GunControlNow

#DontreHamilton – No Charges in Milwaukee Killing of Black Man with Disability

Picture by @deray on Twitter. Used with permission.
“I have a mental illness. Am I next”

Today news broke that the Milwaukee Country D.A. will not be charging a police officer who killed Dontre Hamilton. Hamilton was black, unarmed, and had psychiatric disabilities.

Hamilton was sleeping in a courtyard/park near a Starbucks, when Officer Christopher Manney came to search him. A struggle ensued and Manney eventually drew his firearm and shot Hamilton 14 times, killing him.

The case, of course, mirrors other cases in which law enforcement killed unarmed black men and were not charged. Manney was fired for not following procedure. The D.A. announced, however:

“This was a tragic incident for the Hamilton family and for the community,” Chisholm wrote in his report. “But, based on all the evidence and analysis presented in this report, I come to the conclusion that Officer Manney’s use of force in this incident was justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime.”

This is a fairly typical outcome. By the time the officer pulls his weapon, a lethal use of force is almost unavoidable. The laws protect police who have any kind of reasonable assumption of threat, even if they created the conditions that led to the threat. 
I’m especially struck, though, by Manney’s comments, as reported earlier this year on BuzzFeed.

In his memo, Manney wrote that Hamilton had a “muscular build” and “most definitely would have overpowered … me or pretty much any officer I can think of, to tell you the truth. He was just that big, that muscular … I would say he would be impossible to control if you were one-man.”
Manney also described Hamilton as being “considerably younger than me, in much better shape than me, and much stronger and more muscular than me.”
But the autopsy results do not support Manney’s description. In the report, the medical examiner said that at the time of his death, Hamilton was a 169-pound, 5-foot-7 “well developed, overweight … adult-black male.”

This invokes, of course, the testimony of Darren Wilson and his description of the demonic visage of Michael Brown. It does seem that far too many police engage with black men with a built in fear, then respond to the perception of threat with quick escalation.

And then there’s the disability issue. As I’ve written before, when disability and racial prejudice intersect, it’s terrible dangerous. Hamilton is just the victim in the news today.

There will be someone else tomorrow, or next week, or soon anyway.

It’s got to stop.

2014 Published Writing – My year in review

Last March, a terrible story made its way through my social media feeds. A woman with Down syndrome had been raped. Her rapist was convicted. Then, a judge vacated the conviction because the woman “didn’t act enough like a victim.” I kept waiting for someone in the mainstream press to write a more nuanced piece than “this is horrible,” because while it was indeed horrible, it’s also the kind of thing that happens in rape cases all the time. If we think it’s horrible in this case involving disability, then it should also be horrible in ALL cases.

So I wrote about that for CNN. It got tens of thousands of hits, thousands of shares, and positive letters sent to me by some really awesome people and organizations, pleased to see this denunciation of rape culture on CNN.

A few days later, a job ad showed up for an early modern English professor that said, “MUST PROVIDE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.” I blogged about it, it got a few thousand hits, so I wrote a more formal essay on it for the Chronicle of Higher Education. It stayed on their “most viewed” list for most of the week.

I pitched a regular column to the Chronicle and started talking to the folks over in Vitae about writing for them too. I wrote about 6 essays to prove to the CHE folks I could do it, and they all went into various queues (published over the next four months).

I wrote three more columns for CNN in May. And I was off.

Stats:

Chronicle of Higher Education Essays: 21
CNN Essays: 14
Al Jazeera America Essays: 4
Essays I put on HuffPo: 2
Vice: 1
Reproductive Health Reality Check: 1
Co-written for The Atlantic: 1
Inside Higher Ed (University of Venus): 1
Post that I shared with Good Men Project and then ended up on Business Insider (uncompensated): 1
Blog post I revised for BLOOM: 1

Total published pieces (counting Bloom and GMP): 47.

Here are a few of my favorite essays.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing and commenting. Thanks for sending me material. I’m grateful.

Disability and the Murder of Two NYPD Officers

Yesterday, Ismaaiyl Brinsley made an incendiary Instagram post, shot his girlfriend, traveled to NY area, killed two police officers, and then killed himself.

The simple narrative is that this was about Garner and Brown.  Melissa McEwan and others would like us to keep all three victims in mind, and perhaps that complicates the narrative.

In the meantime, I had a troll yelling at me for the “negro retard” who killed the police officers (said troll has since deleted his account), and so I feel it might be helpful to talk a little bit about disability and murder.

It’s likely that Brinsley was in the midst of a serious mental health crisis. I don’t have any diagnostic information (and would appreciate links). He was also a career criminal. As with all such tragedies we must apply an intersectional lens to figuring out what happened. I am just going to talk about mental health.

Here’s what we know:

On Sunday, it emerged that Mr. Brinsley might have had mental health issues.
During an August 2011 plea hearing in Cobb County, Ga., he was asked: “Have you ever been a patient in a mental institution or under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist?”
According to a court record, he responded yes. The record did not provide any other details.

I have spent much of the last year reporting on killings and harm of people with disabilities by law enforcement. I argue that police are too quick to resort to deadly force and have made a lot of arguments about why and how to reform police strategy. Here’s what I may not have said clearly enough.

There will be places in which a person with a disability, often a psychiatric one like schizophrenia, will present a clear danger to themselves or others. At that point, police are justified in using force. The problem is – how does an officer determine the likelihood of such a threat? My #cultofcompliance argument is that police are currently too likely to interpret non-compliance as imminent threat, and so respond with force, often deadly force. People with disabilities and people of color are most often mis-identified as threats (and when they are both, really dangerously often) or handled in such a way as to increase rather than decrease the threat level.

There are no simple answers. There are, though, complex answers. I hope to talk about those complex answers a lot in the coming year.

A Boy and a Pool Noodle – Discipline and Special Needs

A few days ago over on my Facebook page I shared the story of the school district that took away a blind child’s cane and replaced it with a “pool noodle.” The cane technically belongs to the school district, and when the bus attendant reported that he was waving it in the air and potentially hitting someone with it, they confiscated it. Instead, they gave him a nerf pool noodle to replace it.

The school has apologized and reversed its decision. Here’s a good blog post on the story, with these vital points:

To me, this isn’t the issue. Dakota is still a young boy. It’s entirely possible that on occasion, he’s used his cane in questionable ways. It’s also possible he’s still learning how to control his cane, and not accidentally bump it into people or trip them up. The point to me is that the school should have a more thoughtful set of guidelines and procedures for how to deal with Dakota if he should misbehave, as most 8-year-olds misbehave from time to time. And a central tenet of any disciplinary plan should be to never take away an assistive device a child depends on for independence and mobility. This would apply to canes, crutches, a speech device, a wheelchair, or any other equipment that helps them with their particular disability.

I’ve been troubled by how many people I’ve seen on social media saying: “Well the kid acted up, of course the school had to take away his stick!” That is the wrong attitude. Below, I’ll offer some thoughts about why.

Here are my thoughts.
  1. A cane for someone with vision impairment is a specific piece of assistive technology, designed to give maximum tactile input to the user. It is not just a stick.
  2. The school and parents have not reported on the precise incident, but the boy’s parents say it was likely just a misunderstanding. That he lifted his cane in the air and the bus attendant decided it meant he was trying to hit someone.
  3. I am a critic of zero tolerance policies and I see them as a component of the #cultofcompliance. Schools have decided, as a reaction to the fear of violent incidents on their grounds, that ANY sign of violence, especially weapon-driven violence, must be met with the maximum disciplinary response (students suspended for: drawing a gun, having a picture with a gun, pointing his finger at another child).
  4. While zero tolerance can apply to anyone, it is not meted out equally (studied on black preschoolers suspended for fighting). The question is how do the discipline imposing forces interpret typical kid behavior, which includes real fighting, pretend fighting, fake weapon art and weapon play, and so forth. This kind of prejudicial interpretation also applies to kids with special needs.
  5. When kids with special needs act in unpredictable ways, too many authority figures panic. Whereas a typical child would likely get verbal discipline and verbal interventions, there’s a presumed communicative wall making it harder for the usual interventions to work. Moreover, when dealing with assistive technology, there’s a tangible thing you can take away. No teacher would stitch up a child’s eyes. No teacher would duct tape over a child’s mouth, and yet my son’s “voice,” his communication device, could be taken from him. I’ve heard from parents of older kids who wouldn’t stop talking with their device, who had their device removed. That is simply not acceptable practice. Can you imagine a child in a wheelchair who won’t sit still being dumped on the ground? Yes, they’d sit still, but it’s a failure and it’s abuse. Taking away this child’s cane is abuse. 
  6. I blogged the other day about two 6-year-olds placed in restraints due to behavior issues. I acknowledged that misbehavior can be complicated. Oppositional defiant disorder can be tough (although a neuroscientists I know argued that it’s often mis-diagnosed autism, but that’s a different subject). Sometimes, you’re going to need an intervention. Here’s my mantra though – any intervention, accommodation, or response to special needs that ends up with handcuffs on a six year old is a failed intervention. The same can be said of any intervention that ends up denying access to an assistive technology device.
Here’s my core question. I’m glad the school district gave back the cane, but have they actually learned anything? Next time a child with special needs requires an intervention, will they change their procedures?

And speaking of learning, the root for the word discipline comes from the Latin for teaching or instruction. So what does Dakota learn? He learns that by lifting his cane in the are, acting out in any way, authority will remove his means of navigating the world independently.

That’s exactly the opposite of the lesson we want to teach.

Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan, public intellectual

Today in the Chronicle of Higher Education I have a profile of Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University. I’m interested in his work as a public intellectual and defender of the traditions of liberal learning. There are lots of other people who make similar arguments (which is not a criticism. They are GOOD arguments!). But few have the kind of influence over one of the elite institutions of American higher education.

Since I wrote my profile, Roth wrote this for The New Republic (before it imploded):

In the nineteenth century, Emerson urged students to “resist the
vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism.” He emphasized
that a true education would help one find one’s own way by expanding
one’s world, not narrowing it: notice everything but imitate nothing, he
urged. The goal of this cultivated attentiveness is not to discover
some ultimate Truth, but neither is it just to prepare for the worst job
one is likely to ever have, one’s first job after graduation.
Instead,
the goal of liberal education is, in John Dewey’s words, “to free
experience from routine and caprice.” This goal will make one more
effective in the world, and it will help one continue to grow as a whole
person beyond the university. This project, like learning itself,
should never end.

The criticism of Roth will be that this is all easy for him to say, but that first-generation college students need jobs! College is too expensive! Also jobs! All of which is absolutely true, and Roth acknowledges these issues in his other work. But he does seem to want to get us to agree on what the ideal should look like, and then we can work on cost issues.

Roth is also working at Wesleyan to encourage his faculty to do more public work. When I interviewed him, I asked about how this worked (in the context of my piece, But Does it Count?) I believe that if we want academics to engage, and I think we do, we have to make it count. In a followup email, Roth wrote:

We
established a faculty task force to examine how to
evaluate “non-traditional scholarship.” The impetus came from wanting to
acknowledge public and engaged scholarly work. There was genuine buy-in
by the tenured faculty,
though we still have not determined genuine formulae for quality. There
probably aren’t such formulae, in my view, and we will have to proceed
with evaluators and metrics on a case-by-case basis.

This seems right to me. That you establish the principle to valorize public work, you deal with it case by case, and then those cases provide precedents for going forward. I think, as I’ve said elsewhere, that senior faculty members have to go first. They apply for promotions, sabbaticals, and grants based on public work, then those can serve as precedents for junior faculty to do the same.

Finally, Roth is still very much a faculty member in some ways, especially intellectually. I think this runs generally against the grain of university presidencies. For example, Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester, wrote for Inside Higher Education that, “The days of faculty participating as a matter of course in admissions decisions or of presidents being drawn regularly from the ranks of the faculty at their own institutions are over.” That’s a pretty bold statement from Rosenberg, and I believe Roth serves as a counter-example.

So I asked Roth about what he thinks about faculty becoming presidents. He said:

It is probably important to have had some time in administration, just so one is informed about budgets, fundraising.. and the other systems of governance. Most faculty never have to deal with these things.

Most administrators never have to deal with teaching, and this can be a big problem in the presidential role. Presidents should see themselves as educators as well as administrators. Faculty members can surely do this. I suppose most wouldn’t want to, and many faculty leaders see themselves as antagonists vis a vis the administration. I certainly did. Perhaps this is why some boards of trustees are skeptical about faculty members as presidents.

But university leadership is educational leadership — and I wish that more professors would be interested in it. A friend said to me when I took my first job as president: “you’ve written books, how about trying to build a bookcase?” You don’t build a bookcase if you don’t love books.

And Roth, I am sure, loves books.

Disabled Black Man Holding Spoon Killed by Police. Racists Cheer.

In Texarkana on Monday, a woman called 911 (click for the call) at around 2 AM to report a person in her garage. The woman was frightened and said that she heard banging on the windows from the person in the garage. A police office came to investigate, and found an African-American man holding something in his hand. The officer said the individual came at him in an aggressive manner, and so fired at him, killing him.

The man was Dennis Grigsby. From the article, “Family members say Grigsby had mental problems.” He was holding a spoon, the officer said with the handle up, and the officer thought it was a knife.

The local NBC affiliate reports:

“Grigsby then allegedly made an aggressive move towards the officer while carrying a metal object. The officer said he ordered Grigsby to stop but he continued to approach, forcing the officer to fire a shot into Grigsby’s chest.”

His mother said.

“He was real sweet. He would never hurt anybody. He had a mental illness,” said Evelyn Grigsby, Dennis Grigsby’s Mother.
She was asleep inside their home when the shooting happened and she says she didn’t know her son had left home.

I don’t have any information on Dennis’ disability, but readers of this blog know how these stories play out, because they happen again and again and again. In this case, Dennis wandered from his house, ended up in the garage, and then started making noise. Perhaps he was trying to get out and was confused. Perhaps he merely was interested in the spoon and the windows. We don’t know.

The police officer demanded he comply and shot him when he didn’t. It’s fairly clear to me that the police officer followed his training, although a man alone in a garage with a metal object is, I believe, someone you could back away from instead of forcing compliance. That’s a police strategy point I come back to a lot. There are often other options unless someone is in imminent danger, but we lack the details to judge this one right now.

UPDATE: Notice, though, how the police are reporting the story. Scott Eric Kaufman (of RawStory, but in an email conversation, and quoted with permission), said: “And really, “shank of the spoon”? They’re pre-weaponizing it to make the shooting more plausible.”

So, another person with disabilities killed by police, as is true of at least 50% of all people killed by police. This one had a spoon. Whether or not the officer should be held accountable is a question I can’t answer, but I can demand that this be considered a tragedy and that our thoughts be with Dennis and his family.

That’s not, of course, what’s happening, at least not in some places. I want to focus now on the combination of hate, mistrust, ignorance, and ableism in this Facebook thread from the local news, in which some white folks show just how much they either don’t get it or don’t care. You can click on their profiles, see their beautiful children, their boats, their love of football, their pretty lives, all while reading their lack of empathy for Dennis.

It’s a morass of pro-violence speech, reinforcing the #cultofcompliance, saying that if you don’t obey a cop, you deserve to die. One says she feels so sorry … for the cop. Few express sadness for the victim. Many bluster with bravado, saying that if someone broke into their home, they’d kill them before the cops had a chance (and I believe them). Lots of comment trashing liberals and the liberal media. Lots of comments linking this killing to Garner and Brown and so many others.

It’s loaded with ableism, people saying that if Grigsby was so “mentally challenged,” he should have been in a home. Here’s a sampling.

  • Brandy Thorn If he was that mental then he should have been in a home not someone else home!
  • Jo Ann Hill Odom Thank you Brian , if he was that mentally challenged , why was he not in a facility that could take care of him ? Does not make sense that he was able to make the decision to even break into someone’s house if that mentally ill . Mental illness is a very bad thing for any family to deal with and sometimes they can not control the person with the mental illness because they get out of control , so I do understand the hurt that his parents and family are feeling ! I do understand both sides if this story and I think Channel 12 is doing a great job with this story cause they are covering both sides of it with all the details they have ! We have to have officers on the street to protect us ! If not what would this world be ???? Just saying ……
  • Dakotah Klein Put you damn hands up!!! It’s not that hard. Even go to the ground. You retards wanna play badasses till you get 3 in your chest.
  • And then there’s this.

    Ray says – call a crackhead if you hate cops. 
    Stuart, in what I think is a libertarian critique, shows a picture of what is likely Nazi (or other fascist execution), saying “Never forget that this was legal at the time …what unjust actions has your government codified into action?”
    Then Kenny says that everyone on death row should be treated this way, pistol to the back of the head. Save the taxpayers some money. 
    This is the divide in America. That even in a situation when police kill a black man with intellectual disabilities who was only holding a spoon, there’s no sympathy, no empathy, and certainly no second thoughts. The Cult of Compliance lives on in these people. 

    Me and Voldemort (Why Academic Freedom in Extramural Utterances Matters)

    I had a new piece at the Chronicle yesterday about offensive speech and academic freedom. Deborah O’Connor, a Florida State lecturer, resigned after saying some really nasty things on a public Facebook page. In my piece, I compare her speech to the un-hiring of Steven Salaita, a case on which I’ve written a lot over the last few months.

    Here’s a passage I had to cut from the essay (as it veered off the main thread), but that I think helps raise the stakes, in the sense that we are all at risk:

    I used to hang out on a Facebook page filled with
    interesting people from diverse political perspectives. We’d debate issues,
    disagree, and kept it all pretty civil. But then Voldemort, my nickname for a
    fanatical right-wing historian, would show up and start baiting me. I was, at
    the time, easily baited. Again and again, I would find myself writing profane
    responses, my temper flaring, my fingers slamming down on the keys. I never sent
    them, at least not the worst ones. I never told him to “Fuck off and die.” I
    never called him any offensive epithets. 
    But I was close, too close, too often. Eventually, I had to cut myself
    off from that community, just because I spent too much of my day being angry.
    Had I lost my temper, what implications should that have for
    my job? Voldemort could have screen-captured my comments and sent them to my
    university or to the press. The right-wing blogosphere is always eager for
    example of left-wing misconduct and angry or violent rhetoric. It could easily
    have become an issue.

    In the essay, I write:

    Last week Deborah O’Connor, a senior lecturer at Florida State University, was pushed to resign after making racist and homophobic comments on a public Facebook page. She said some pretty horrible things, like blaming Europe’s troubles on “rodent Muslims.” She also told a well-known gay hairstylist to “Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass. ”

    I am revolted by her remarks. However, I spent quite a lot of the fall arguing thatimpassioned political speech on a personal social-media account did not justify the “de-hiring” of Steven Salaita. As has been well reported, Salaita was hired for a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when stories about his angry tweets regarding the war in Gaza reached the trustees and chancellor of the university. They canceled his appointment. Every time I encountered someone justifying Salaita’s firing by emphasizing what they considered the gross anti-Semitism of his tweets, I responded with the following: If we do not stand on principle for people with whom we disagree, we have no principles.

    I stand by that analysis.

    So what is owed O’Connor? The key is to remember that the principles of academic freedom do not say that all speech is protected speech; rather, it argues that there are broad protections of most kinds of conduct. If an institution thinks someone has crossed those lines, then the burden is on the institution to follow (or at least explicitly offer) an appropriate due process, as outlined in the 1964 (rev 1989) AAUP Committee A Statement on Extramural Utterances.

    This should really not be controversial, but it often becomes so when we are faced with someone saying or doing awful things.

    I suspect O’Connor is not, in fact, able to teach without bias. But it’s possible, and I’d like the burden of proof to be on FSU to prove it.

    H.R. 1447 Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013

    Congress just passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013. You can read the text of the bill here. It’s supposed to get departments to regularly report data on deaths in custody, which is badly needed (it’s shocking how hard it is to get that data).

    In a public Facebook post, activist Leroy Moore says:

    You know what I am going to say, Where is disability and GBLTQ? “A bill passed by both chambers of Congress and headed to President Barack Obama’s desk will require local law enforcement agencies to report every police shooting and other death at their hands. That data will include each victim’s age, gender and race as well as details about what happened.”

    Here’s the key text of the law.

    SEC. 2. STATE INFORMATION REGARDING INDIVIDUALS WHO DIE IN THE CUSTODY 
    OF LAW ENFORCEMENT.
    
        (a) In General.--For each fiscal year after the expiration of the 
    period specified in subsection (c)(1) in which a State receives funds 
    for a program referred to in subsection (c)(2), the State shall report 
    to the Attorney General, on a quarterly basis and pursuant to 
    guidelines established by the Attorney General, information regarding 
    the death of any person who is detained, under arrest, or is in the 
    process of being arrested, is en route to be incarcerated, or is 
    incarcerated at a municipal or county jail, State prison, State-run 
    boot camp prison, boot camp prison that is contracted out by the State, 
    any State or local contract facility, or other local or State 
    correctional facility (including any juvenile facility).
        (b) Information Required.--The report required by this section 
    shall contain information that, at a minimum, includes--
            (1) the name, gender, race, ethnicity, and age of the deceased;
            (2) the date, time, and location of death;
            (3) the law enforcement agency that detained, arrested, or was 
        in the process of arresting the deceased; and
            (4) a brief description of the circumstances surrounding the  

        death.

    Notice that  section 2 b) says at a minimum.

    If we want to make sure that disability, sexuality, religion, class, and whatever other kinds of data is collected, we need to push the DoJ to require or compile such variables as they come in.

    Because we do need that data. I was trying to write a sentence saying the number of people with disabilities killed by police over the last year, or last five years, or whatever. While I know how many cases I have, and I know specific studies in, say, Maine and New Mexico, we just don’t have that data.

    And data feeds policy.

    And policy feeds change (as does organization, demonstration, direct action, and so much more).

    We need the data.