Disability Day of Mourning - Online Vigil 2023

Over 550 disabled people have been murdered by their caregivers in the past 5 years. We must stand together to condemn these acts and change the way disabled life is regarded as disposable.

Each year on March 1st, the Pittsburgh disability community comes together to mourn and call for justice for the dozens of disabled people murdered by their parents and caregivers. As we come together for the ninth year in Pittsburgh, we embrace our community and reject narratives that dehumanize us and cast our deaths as good or justified.

People with disabilities are twice as likely as non-disabled people to be victims of violent crime. Every year, the national media covers dozens of stories about murders of people with disabilities by family members or caregivers, and many more go unnoticed. Too often, the coverage focuses on sympathy for the murderer, because they had to live with or care for a person with a disability. The message to the public is that our lives—not our deaths—are the tragedy.

Mourn for the dead... and fight like hell for the living. - Mary Harris "Mother" Jones


Daeja with fluffed green hair and big glasses, in a puffed sleeve and collared shirt, smiling. Behind her is a large framed portrait of Celeste in colorful ancestral dress and a bouquet of flowers next to the photo, on top of a bookshelf.
Daeja Baker (she/her) was born and raised in the North Side of Pittsburgh. She is an organizer and poet, using both for radical, sustainable change RE: GOOD. She is currently studying to get her MSW in direct practice and mental health, which she will use to grow her community and policy advocacy work.
“My ancestors watered the seeds of the diaspora so that I may take root this Revolution.” 

Cori, a nonbinary person wearing glasses, smiles at the cameraCori (they/them) is a nonbinary, disabled social worker and co-founder of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy. A community organizer by training, Cori works to create connection, community, and cross-movement solidarity.

Photo of Opal, a white nonbinary person with red hair. They are lit softly and smiling while looking off to the side.Opal (they/them) is trans and nonbinary, Autistic and multiply disabled and parents Autistic and Disabled young people. Opal is PCAA’s co-pilot. They work for a world that is just, equitable, and joyful.

Kathryn is wearing glasses, red lipstick, and a necklace.Kathryn Rose (they/she) has always been angry. They are multiply disabled, a lifelong disability advocate, a collector of hobbies, a habitual elected official pesterer, an avid sci-fi/fantasy reader, and a creative thinker. She will talk about fat acceptance, swimming, making stuff, or systemic thinking with almost anyone, but if you’re excited, she’s excited to hear about it. They beg you to wear your mask, as they are immunocompromised and miss their friends and the pool very much. Kayte currently works as an Operations Analyst.

Owen is smiling and has a blue and brown plaid shirt, glasses, and dark hair.Owen Taeger (he/him) is a trans and multiply disabled Pittsburgher who spends a lot of time thinking about how to create justice.

Heather has long brown hair and a white blouse and is sitting in a wheelchair in a green garden.Heather Tomko (she/her) is the Outreach Coordinator National Rehabilitation Research and Training (RRT) Center on Family Support at the University of Pittsburgh, focused on research and programming for unpaid family caregivers. As a disabled woman, Heather is passionate about disability advocacy and access. She serves on the Board of Directors of CLASS, Film Pittsburgh, The Andy Warhol Museum, and AT&T’s Advisory Panel on Access and Aging. She has a blog, The Heather Report, where she shares about her life with a disability. She has also been published in The Pittsburgh Post-GazettePublic Source, and Marie Claire.

Bethany Ziss. A white woman with dark hair and glasses. She is smiling.Bethany Ziss (she/her) is a disabled person and a doctor, who believes the two are not mutually exclusive.

What’s Next?

Crisis Resources

The vigil can bring up many different kinds of feelings. It is okay not to be okay. If you are in crisis please do not hesitate to reach out.

  • Re:solve Crisis Network: 1-888-796-8226
  • Trans LifeLine: 877-565-8860
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • Center for Victims Hotline: 866-644-2882
  • Deaf Crisis Line: VP: 321-800-3323

Help with Self-Care

Access Information

CART live captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. For additional access needs or questions, please email info@autisticpgh.org.

If you believe a person with a disability is in danger or being abused call:
Childline: 1-800-932-0313
Adult Protective Services: 1-800-490-8505

decorative, stylized representations of candles

PCAA extends our special thanks to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and PCAA’s amazing team of volunteers for their roles in making this event possible.