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New York State
An Albany County man from East Berne, New York, Is giving a voice to the state and the country to get his message heard. He is walking across the State of New York on a 600 mile walk for justice. Beginning in Buffalo, and ending in Montauk, Long Island. Tom is no stranger to his civil rights, and has walked for many other causes.
62 year old Tom Cavanagh, an advocate for the civil rights of the disabled, embarked on his journey on Monday, September 22, 2014. Tom quit his job, and moved out of his home, and planned well in advance in order to prepare for the trip. Tom hopes to somehow reach out to local, state, and national news along the way, including delivering the message in person along his journey so that the rest of us have a clear process of what is happening.
The abuse and neglect of people with developmental disabilities is a greater problem then we think. Furthermore, the system that New York State has put into place, The New York State Justice System, is ineffective.
Cavanagh, a victim of very bad abuse himself at a younger age, was able to protect himself as he grow older by standing up to the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. He is not alone; many Americans suffer the same abuse on a daily basis, but are afraid or unable to tell anyone, sometimes wondering what the outcome might be.
The children and adults that Tom walks for are unable to do the the same; their situations are much different than most us realize. Many have no way to talk due to the nature of there disabilities. Many are placed in state-funded residential settings and entrusted to the healthcare workers, that provide them care. Their voices need to be heard, too.
Walking about 30 miles each day, Cavanagh hopes that his journey will become the voice for all of those who suffer neglect and abuse at the hands of others they trust. Tom is being followed by an RV that reads “600 Mile Walk For Justice”; an understatement of just what he intends to accomplish. Along with Micheal Carey, the father of Jonathan Carey, the RV is endured by a photo of 13 year old Jonathan, an autistic boy who died after being smothered by a caregiver who was trying to restrain him.
The mission of the New York State Justice System is to protect and support the rights of the health, safety and dignity of any person with special needs and disabilities through advocacy of their civil rights. Along with the prevention of being mistreated, and investigation of the allegations of abuse or neglect, to ensure that the appropriate actions will be taken. But the reality of this mission is entirely different. Cavanagh and Carey say the current system allows facilities across the State of New York to cover up the crimes that they are commenting, and take legal actions to seal any evidence in cases currently being investigated. Carey says that a number of reports are coming in on daily basis, however nothing is being done in response to these reports.
A number of these cases involve innocent people who are intentionally being denied emergency services, a clear violation of their civil rights.
Cavanagh has vowed to continue his journey, followed by the Jonathan Carey Foundation RV, which is currently being used as a mobile headquarters for the foundation. The walk is a promise of hope for many of us who suffer abuse everyday. Though his feet may be sore and his leg muscles might feel cramped, Tom insists that you must push through hardship in hope of achieving greater good.