More links on the shooting of John T Williams

In an earlier posting at “People of the Eye” the shooting of a Native American Deaf woodcarver, John T. Williams, was discussed.

some additional links re: this case are below

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington letter to the US Dept of Justice Civil Rights Division (December 3, 2010) request to Investigate Pattern or Practice of Misconduct by Seattle Police Department

Click youtube icon then the text box for a write up and the lyrics to song

video has pix of John T. Williams through out his life, pix of the Native American community’s reaction / response to his death, and lyrics to the song

Vigil Service for John T Williams (drumming and singing)


gratitude & the power of love – happy 2011

vlog wishing folks a happy new year for 2011 by reflecting back and offering my gratitude for the good that is within our Deaf online community

Gratitude is the heart’s memory ~ Jean Massieu

this is a famous statement by Jean Massieu, a Deaf man who taught at the Paris School for the Deaf.  As I approach the new year I often reflect back on what i wish i had done more of or what i wish i’d done less of during the year.   I also think of that which i am grateful for.

I want to express my gratitude for our Deaf online community.  I know its a rocky ride at times – there are fights, dramas,  and negativity.  But there are some positives too.   Some things to cherish.  Some of you have big hearts and good spirits.  You are committed and dedicate yourselves to keeping your eyes on the prizes as we keep keepin’ on in our efforts for justice for all folks.  That is just beautiful.  You are solid.  Ya fight back with love.  Ya stand firm and don’t seek to diminish and degrade and debase.  You cherish.  You come from love and that is CHAMP.  I thank you for that.

[1:10 – holds up glass bead with yin yang symbol and text]  You know how the yin yang symbol has both dark and light just as the world has good and bad.  It has challenges, disappointments and struggles while it also has beauty, heart-touch, and joy.  We have both in this world – this balance.  the bead also has the words – Harmony, Balance, and Peace.  (ILY + V handshape)  That is beautiful.

So as we approach this new year and new things coming – i hope we will approach it with a collective spirit.  If someone angers us and we think “you did this to me!”  take a time out and come from love first, first!  Confront yes, Challenge yes, Engage yes.  But create a big drama fest – that is so blase and unnecessary.  That is my wish for your new year going forward.

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

That quote is accurate.  A chicken will squawk and flap its wings and attack, will seek to destroy, twist, spin, defame, etc – it will.

Whereas a person who has love is BRAVE – they will confront with truths.  That action requires a very brave soul.  I want to thank so many of you.  I wish I could name each of you but I see within some of you – you are truly much braver than me.  You totally trump me.  You confront, and confront and confront again.  You do not give up.  You remain positive, positive, positive.  You find facts and information and bring it forth to share – and when folks try to banter and corrupt it, you know that that is THEIRS and it has no power over you.  NONE.  You just keep marching forward.  So i sincerely want to thank each of you.

I look forward to a BRIGHT new year filled with … LOVE, HOPE, and FAITH

Take Care,


added 1/2/2011 – roaming through some Rumi quotes this a.m. and this one re: being grateful crossed me path so i thought id add it here:

‘Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.’ ~ Rumi

Being Deaf is Deadly???

Heye all

as we approach the new year – i hope one of our united efforts will be to make sure no one else is shot down on a city street simply for not heeding an officer’s call because…. s/he could not hear it.

John T. Williams, a Native American Deaf wooden carver, was killed by a policeman on August 30, 2010 in Seattle Washington in the United States of America.

His crime?  Unknown, unclear, unanything because he committed none at all

Known? He was a Native American

Known? He was a person of the street

Known? He was poor

Known? He was an artist

Known… to folks who loved and knew him? He was Deaf

Unknown to the officer who shot him? He was DEAF

What did the officer know about John T. Williams except for that which he saw with his eyes – you can see it too at this youtube video of the police cam.  (note: no captions) The shooting takes place off camera but the audio is recorded.  What we can see is John T. Williams crossing a street holding on to some things as he walks.

The officer pulls up the car.  Stops it – exits and marches after John calling out “hey,

[They are off camera now but we can assume that John has not turned around or stopped because…


hey, hey.  Put the knife down.  PUT THE KNIFE DOWN.  Put the knife DOWN.”  pop, pop, pop, pop.

John is DEAFD

Within 24 7 sec John T. Williams is no more (added 4/29/2011 – 24 sec from when he begins to cross the street but only 7 secs from the time the cop called out to him to put down the knife to when he started shooting- 7 sec)

What about using a taser, what about shooting at his foot, what about wrestling him to the ground – the knife was small the man was old, what about running to be in front of him and putting ur hands out, what about pulling ur police car in front of him so he can SEE what is going on and know this is serious.

The police department’s Firearms Review Board made a preliminary finding that the shooting wasn’t justified. But the decision whether to charge the officer with a crime will be up to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg after the inquest in January. (from Real Change, Dec 22, 2010, Vol 17 No 35)

Since the shooting takes place off camera we dont know if John T. Williams was ever even aware that anyone was behind him, that someone with a GUN was behind him.

We dont have any knowledge that he knew he was just about to be gunned down.

Later when a slew of cops arrive on bikes, in squad cars etc the shooter says that he called out to the man repeatedly to drop the knife and he didn’t.

He makes no mention of the man turning around, the man gesturing, the man lunging out at him, the man charging at him, the man knowing that he was even behind him.

This may be one of the worst cases of accidental audism – this cop may have simply been operating on the assumption that EVERYBODY hears.

But they dont.

And they shouldn’t be shot down because they don’t.

And even if he was hearing (which he wasnt) and he refused to turn around and drop the wood carving knife – should he really have been shot several times – KILLED in the middle of a beautiful day.

Police officers are supposed to be Peace officers.

I know some times they cant be – i know sometimes they have to use excessive force and i know that we dont SEE what took place via this video but from what we do know – those of us who have not responded when we have been called cuz we didnt hear we was being called – we know it invites anger, mistrust, misunderstanding, frustration, rejection, inspection, and more from those who dont know and understand

so what’s the plan?

This is not the first police shooting of a Deaf man on a noon day street.  There have been more before and they are often Deaf folks of color.

Not cool

So what’s the plan?

The Island First Nation people have called for a thorough investigation.  A petition was out.  Audism Free America joined its support with the Native American community in protesting this death.

Where are the Deaf folks of Seattle?

John was our brother.

I totally feel this.  Not just because he was an artist, not just because he was a Native American man, not just because he was Deaf but because he was a human and he is no more on this plane.

And that is WRONG folks


It appears that what the cop didnt know about John and didnt see about John is that he was DEAF

and that is no reason to be DEAD

What will each of US do individually and collectively to make sure being Deaf is not Deadly?

Here’s wishing each and every one of us a better new year.  And a year where each of us works to ensure that its a better year for our brothers and sisters and not just ourselves because…

our humanity is interconnected – it truly is.  My heart goes out to the family of John T. Williams, to the officer who did the shooting and his family also.

Much love and peace,


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington letter to the US Dept of Justice Civil Rights Division (December 3, 2010) request to Investigate Pattern or Practice of Misconduct by Seattle Police Department

several links about this case – some videos are not captioned (feel free to add more links in the comments box – especially if u find captioned versions of the videos)

cop cam – see John T. Williams cross street and cop pursue

ASL video with captions

Deaf man – spoken English with subtitles

spoken spanish news report

news program – Native Americans solidarity and activism (no captions)

Rally in John T Williams Memory Part I and II

video with pictures of John T Williams, Native American community’s reaction /response, and totem poles (text box has article and lyrics to song)


it does get better – ya hoo

If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God – Desmond Tutu

greetings all

today Obama did the right thing and signed into law a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and “live a lie” compromise of the early 1990s.”

That law basically told the military u cant ask folks to tell u the truth so u can give ’em the boot and g/l/b/t folks cant self-disclose who they are.  pretty much a false peace and a tying of both hands during times of an intolerant culture (American Culture and military culture).

But with

  • the Pentagon issuing a report that letting soldiers serve their country openly wont hurt a thing,
  • with positive and peaceful activism from groups like Human Rights Campaign and
  • with the House of Representatives, Senate, and President saying “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

We the People do the right thing by giving DADT da boot.

Wow, i is so happy!

Now u might be wondering “well what is Durr’s vested interest in this issue – i mean what should she care unless she is one of those kinda people.”  then u quickly pull a seinfeld “not that there is anything wrong with that”

(yes, i see u and love u)

while i havent ever been GLBT and its unlikely ill ever be, i am still me and i truly believe in the gospel of the truth – ya know the little self-evident one mentioned up above in our Declaration of Independence.  and even if i aint one – i dont ever want the reason why someone isnt – to be because they have been told they can not be who they truly are and cuz “it does get better” (see ASL testimonies) and we gotta PROVE that it does get better – not just talk it.  oh and cuz my humanity is tied in “their” humanity cuz we all is the same meaning even though we all is different we are EQUAL – endowed with certain thingynesses that nobody should be denying anybody of

and cuz:

“Ubuntu […] speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say […] “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.” Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” We belong in a bundle of life. We say, “A person is a person through other persons.” Desmond Tutu

and cuz:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Desmond Tutu

folks can preach defense of the country but when the dept of defense via the Pentagon says not true fool – well ya gotta wake up and examine ur own wittle pre-judices and know that some of the folks u have loved ur whole life might be one of “them” kinda folks and nothing has changed except for the fact that u will have to now confront ur own hatreds and biases

“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.”
Desmond Tutu

Injustice is not cool, fools

yes C A L I F O R N I A majorly uncool

and the right to marry is next on the agenda folks

if folks want to argue they want to protect the institution of marriage then let them show how they have been advocating for a ban on divorce rather than a ban on g/l/b/t marriage

Happy New Beginnings and it Does Indeed Get Better when good folks get busy

and i know it is mighty odd for me to be advocating for my brothers and sisters to have the right to go off and fight when im a major pacifist.  Deaf folks (g/l/b/t and not) also deserve the right to serve this nation.  for many a moons the military said – cant have girls play in this sand box cuz it would make the boys bonky and unfocused on the tasks at hand etc etc but then in came the girls and things are fine (yep i do know there has been some cases of sexual harassment etc and that is NOT COOL but that is not a rational to prevent XXs from serving with XYs but rather a defense for the folks to learn how to co-exist as will need to be learned re: g/l/b/t service).  There were also segregated troops for many many moons – there were folks fighting and dying for this country only to have the survivors return and be told – “no nope, not u.  u cant go into that movie theatre, or drink from that fountain, and we gotta keep the white and black folks bloods separate and…” – oh dont even get me started on the treatment of Native Americans, Japanese Americans and Latinos and… in the military – oy but it has gotten better folks and it is getting better folks and i got hope that Deaf folks who wanna join will lobby for it.  it is not a cause i have undertaken cuz…. I am a pacifist but if one gets organized – i will definitely send a letter or few and sign me john hancock for whatever it is worth… ya know in the spirit of letting “justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” and the self-evident becoming manifest for all for all

one for all and once for all

peace and love,


PS: Some quotes from conservative right wing in response to the repeal – oy!

  • “The American military… has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda.” – Tony Perkins, Family Research Council.
  • “This action will be overturned in the next Congress.” – Matthew Staver, Freedom Federation
  • “The repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law is a disaster of historic proportions and it must be reinstated. My organization and others will to fight to make sure that happens.” – E. W. Jackson, Stand America PAC

The Art of Uzi Buzgalo

Greetings All

(image from Uzi’s website)

Uzi Buzgalo is a Deaf Israeli artist who now lives in Colorado with his Deaf wife, Ann Marie Baer, and two Deaf sons.  (UPDATE: since the writing of this entry – Uzi and family have moved to Israel) I will admit i fell in love with both of their children during the family’s visit to NTID/RIT this fall – they totally stole me heart – smart, precocious, and sweet.  The total embodiment of multilingualism-multiculturalism at work.  Truly Uzi and Ann Marie’s greatest master pieces – these two young boys.

[To see Uzi’s art – visit his online gallery]

But i shall return me focus to Uzi’s paintings – they are amazing and run the gamut from abstract pieces to representational work of Deaf ancestors.  Uzi does a masterful job of incorporating brilliant colors, composition, motifs and themes to celebrate Deaf culture, natural sign languages, Deaf heritage, sexuality, diversity, and Judaism while also examining audism, linguicism, eugenics, war and more.  In a nutshell – he offers a feast for the eyes and the heart and the soul.  Resistance art to affirmation art in our never ending effort to make the invisible visible.  All of this greatness enshrined within his signature, hand made, one of a kind framing.

As like many other artists – Uzi’s works can be categorized by different phases, themes, or color palettes.  He has many outstanding works affirming his country of origin, Israel, his religion, Judaism, and his people.  He has several works signifying the 6 Day war that use the motif of a singular candle with his abstraction that represents signing hands carefully, cautiously signing in the dark bomb shelter at the Deaf school so as to not extinguish the flames with their rapid motion.  One work is a chair (see video below) with the candle and hand motifs with the backing being the metal framing like the gate at the Deaf school with blue tape over the glass just as they had to tape up all the windows before going underground to prevent the windows from imploding and shattering all over the classrooms.

In addition,to works exploring his Jewish Israeli heritage and identity, he also has a variety of works examining the power and importance and oppression of natural sign language.  His series about the Flower of a Language can appear to be whimsical and aesthetically pleasing but upon further inspection, you can often find a pair of scissors or some telling marker to indicate that natural sign languages do not exist in complete acceptance and freedom; yet, still their beauty and naturalness supersedes all threats.

Uzi does not only create abstract or Picasoesque type works, he does have a series of more representational works via his portraits of famous Deaf people incorporating symbols that exemplify their contributions to the world.  My favorite of the bunch is George Veditz.  Surprise, surprise!  Smile. (see video below)

This work now frames the window in my office so that Veditz greets me every work day and anyone else who happens down my hallway.  He is big and bright and beautiful and i thank you Uzi for creating this work.

On a personal note – I truly enjoyed getting to know Uzi and his family.  Anne Marie Baer gave a stellar presentation about ASL instruction, curriculum and material development at NTID and Uzi presented about his background, involvement in a very unique Deaf Israeli dance / movement company, as well as his life and work as an artist.  He even shared how he severed part of his finger tips  using an old saw while making a frame and how he had to make reasonable accommodations with his various art tools and re-train himself as a painter (and also as a signer) to adjust to this difference in the length of his digits.

Most especially what comes through when interacting with Uzi is his great world knowledge, his love of his homeland, religion, languages, Deaf culture,  A-R-T and his family.  If you ever get yourself a chance to buy one of Uzi’s works – i would totally grab it.  It is an investment in Uzi, his craft, Deaf artists, Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA), Deaf culture, and you, yourself.  We deserve to surround ourselves with things of value to show our own values.

thank you Uzi for all you create

Rochester Rocks – DRFF 2011 Films wanted

Heye all

The Deaf Rochester Film Festival (DRFF) 2011 has a call for films – Deadline is Jan 15 – dont miss it

Don’t let the title fool u – it is an INTERNATIONAL festival but based in Rochester and Rochester rocks!

Deaf French actress Emmanuelle Laborit will be at the festival and one of her feature films will screen

Many other wow keynotes are lining up and im sure they will have an excellent program of films being screened as well as presentations, panels, etc etc

Submit ur films NOW!

this is the 4th DRFF – it happens every two years and keeps getting bigger and better

Contact Stacy Lawrence, the festival director, if your organization / group is interested in becoming a sponsor or if you have questions etc.

Letter from Obama re: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Heye all:

Prior to President Clinton, our military had the policy that if they discovered a military personnel to be Gay or Lesbian they would give them the boot – often loosing benefits, credentials, status etc

Under Clinton the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was instituted – this policy basically said the military can not ask if a service person is G/L/B/T and the service person should not self-disclose their sexual orientation.  In a word it was a negative peace policy – a temporary band aid in a predominantly homophobic world.  Yesterday the Senate voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the House of Representatives already did.  Once Obama signs his ole John Hancok this means that G/L/B/T service people can serve our country openly.

No shame and no blame.  We dont ask you to risk your life for a country that expects you to live in secret.
so Barack Obama pledges to sign the bill that this discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” be repealed.  Ya Hoo – i can not tell you how happy i am.  See the letter from Obama below.  A Dream Deferred is not always a Dream that Dies.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people are created equal …”

thank u america and g-d bless

From: Barack Obama
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2010 19:19:02 -0500
Subject: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Friend —

Hours ago, the Senate voted to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

When that bill reaches my desk, I will sign it, and this discriminatory law will be repealed.

Gay and lesbian service members — brave Americans who enable our freedoms — will no longer have to hide who they are.

The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one.

This victory belongs to you. Without your commitment, the promise I made as a candidate would have remained just that.

Instead, you helped prove again that no one should underestimate this movement. Every phone call to a senator on the fence, every letter to the editor in a local paper, and every message in a congressional inbox makes it clear to those who would stand in the way of justice: We will not quit.

This victory also belongs to Senator Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and our many allies in Congress who refused to let politics get in the way of what was right.

Like you, they never gave up, and I want them to know how grateful we are for that commitment.

Will you join me in thanking them by adding your name to Organizing for America’s letter? <>

I will make sure these messages are delivered — you can also add a comment about what the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” means to you.

As Commander in Chief, I fought to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because it weakens our national security and military readiness. It violates the fundamental American principles of equality and fairness.

But this victory is also personal.

I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my sexual orientation.

But I know my story would not be possible without the sacrifice and struggle of those who came before me — many I will never meet, and can never thank.

I know this repeal is a crucial step for civil rights, and that it strengthens our military and national security. I know it is the right thing to do.

But the rightness of our cause does not guarantee success, and today, celebration of this historic step forward is tempered by the defeat of another — the DREAM Act. I am incredibly disappointed that a minority of senators refused to move forward on this important, commonsense reform that most Americans understand is the right thing for our country. On this issue, our work must continue.

Today, I’m proud that we took these fights on.

Please join me in thanking those in Congress who helped make “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal possible: <>

Thank you,


Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee — 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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