Sometime during the night of January 5th-6th, vandals defaced three prominent Black Lives Matter banners at the Center for Disability Rights (CDR). The three 10-foot by 12-foot banners were installed in July 2020 in support of Black Lives Matter protests. They featured pictures of prominent Black individuals with disabilities associated with CDR and the affirmation “Black Lives Matter”. All three banners were vandalized; the word “Black” was covered with spray paint and replaced with the word “All”.
CDR shared the news with Tina Paradiso, the owner of Imprintable Solutions, who originally produced the banners. The Development Team knew of her interest in social justice, and her engagement as a community partner. Imprintable Solutions relocated to the Neighborhood of the Arts in September 2018, a move that reflected intentional and increased community engagement.
She sprung into action to raise funds to help replace the three defaced banners. In her fundraising message, Tina said, “I want to sponsor replacements for them and am asking if there are any other businesses who would like to help with the costs…I feel the message needs to stay prominent and up in the community.”
Tina and other businesses and individuals in the community, many from the Rochester Neighborhood of the Arts Business Association (NOTABA), not only raised the funds needed to replace the banners – in only three days – but more importantly, they are sending a message that Black Lives Matter in Rochester, New York.
While many donors chose to give anonymously, we are greatly heartened and appreciative of the outpouring support. CDR would like to thank everyone who contributed for their willingness and generosity. On the morning on January 29th, the defaced banners were replaced, with Tina Paradiso joining CDR administrators in addressing the local media.
“We are so grateful to everyone who responded to Tina’s call to action,” said Kenyatta Dacosta, Vice-chair of the CDR Board of Directors. “The people whose images are on these banners are important members of Rochester’s Disability Community. These banners were intended to honor them while amplifying the work of Black Lives Matter activists. Community members pulling together to restore the banners sends a powerful message supporting our community’s commitment to ending systemic racism, racism and ableism.”
The organization’s commitment to antiracism and Black Lives Matter goes well beyond three banners. CDR is a part of national, state and local campaigns to combat racism, end police violence, and reform a racist and ableist prison system. “Our work will continue! These pathetic efforts to intimidate us will only ensure that we work harder,” said Dara Baldwin CDR’s Director of National Policy. “This is nothing new. Racism has always been defended with courage. These actions will change nothing about the important work we do to create a better world.”