Trooper Hernandez: You Owe Us an Apology!

Trooper Dylan Hernandez, Badge #229

On Feb 20th, during the Community Living and Caregiver Advocacy Lobby Day, a Medicaid Waiver Member named John went to the State capitol to lobby for his services and the services of other in his community. He came with his mother and caregiver, Catherine, to tell his story. He even made a special shirt to share his message since he didn't want to speak very much. It had many messages, but what stood out the most was a sign saying, "I am not a profit margin or a percentage, my name is John Gray"

John was harassed by a state trooper who was threatening to remove him from the state capitol building for sharing his message. John's mother, Catherine, kept telling the trooper that John lives with Autism and that the trooper should address her as John's mother. The trooper continued to threaten John, and eventually threatened Catherine, too. When the trooper couldn't harass Catherine or John, he threatened Harleigh, a Black organizer who stepped in to help.

There are many barriers that people with disabilities and people of color face to participating in the legislative process, and police brutality on state grounds shouldn't be another barrier. We demand that Trooper Dylan Hernandez, Dist. 16, Badge # 229 issue a formal apology to Catherine Gray, John Gray, and Harleigh Boldridge showing that he understands the severe implications and consequences of his actions.

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Des Moines, IA

To: Trooper Dylan Hernandez, Badge #229
From: [Your Name]

We are requesting a formal apology for your words and actions on February 20th, 2020 at the Iowa State Capitol.
Around 11am, you approached a dependent adult living with Autism named John Gray and demanded that he remove non-partisan messages from his shirt.
Because John has an Intellectual Disability, he had placed on himself the words that he would like to say if he were able. A key phrase on his shirt was, "I am not a profit margin, I am John Gray", accompanied by other non-partisan phrases about his life. He was at the capitol to lobby and share his story as a Medicaid recipient, and to advocate for others living with disabilities.
You refused to work with his mother who kept explaining to you that John has Autism, and that you should address her. You threatened to make her leave the Capitol, too, if she didn't make John leave.
When the Organizer behind the event, Harleigh Boldridge, a Black woman, tried to de-escalate the situation, you insisted that her trying to ask clarifying questions about Capitol policy was, "argumentative", and repeatedly asserted that she was trying to pick an argument with you. She was asking about ways to rectify the situation to allow John to participate in his democracy.
The tone and attitude you adopted when interacting with these people is shameful, and not in accordance with standard training in de-escalation, interacting with people with disabilities, or cultural competence. When you yelled at John, you made him feel threatened, and your aggressive words and tone insisted that he did not belong at the Iowa State Capitol for trying to tell his story. You also followed him, which made him feel scared. When you raised your voice at Catherine and threatened to make her leave, you invalidated her role as a mother, caregiver, advocate, and taxpayer. When you were approached with an opportunity for public education and restitution, you chose stereotypes about Black women over the whole person in front of you.
We feel that the only path to reconciliation in this matter is a formal letter of apology to John, Catherine and Harleigh acknowledging that your actions, aggression, and tone are not welcoming to everyday people who are participating at the Iowa State Capitol, and, instead, uphold the oppressive systems that disadvantage Iowan's from partaking in our democracy.

Members of Iowa CCI Action and #UpgradeMedicaid