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2-year-old expelled by mall, community demands disability rights

By Tom Burke |
January 28, 2019
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Michigan community demands disability rights.
Michigan community demands disability rights. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Wyoming, MI - Discrimination against a two-year-old girl with a disability brought close to 150 people to Rogers Plaza Town Center for “Walking with Claire” on January 27.

On a Sunday afternoon, the normally empty mall was filled with family, friends and disability rights activists wearing, “Walking with Claire” t-shirts. Some held signs reading, “Disabled lives matter!” and “We heart our community! Everybody belongs!”

The large crowd gathered to walk slowly behind Claire and her parents, Andrew Dykstra and Hiliary Goddard-Dykstra, to the far end of the mall. There everyone sat down on the floor together to rest, and make an important point.

In December, a Rogers Plaza employee ejected Claire, who is learning to walk with a walker, and with great effort. The agitated employee demanded Claire leave, along with her grandfather and a therapist who were assisting her in learning. The mall is upset that Claire sat down to rest on the floor. There is video footage of the confrontation.

“I have communicated with the owner and he is backing the manager’s decision,” said organizer Lily Cheng Shulting, with Disability A-TEAM. The owner is Stanley Spigel of Spigel Properties in San Antonio, Texas.

Lilly Cheng Shulting continued, “We would like to see some positive changes. We would like to see this mall reflect what our community is about. We are a community that is compassionate and kind, and we want to be able to love everyone, including people with disabilities, and this mall should reflect that.”

Surprisingly, the mural behind the sit-in by Claire’s supporters included a single quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

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