Todd Vaarwerk is a disability activist and Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at the Western New York Independent Living Center in Buffalo, New York.
Arrests in 2017
Todd Vaarwerk was quoted in an article from March 2017 where disability activists protested Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, claiming that "the governor has failed to follow through on promises to support the needs of the disabled in this year’s budget."
- “We were basically told by the governor’s staff, ‘There’s really nothing we can do. Come and see us about next year’s budget,’” said Vaarwerk. “We’re not talking about things that are minor issues. We’re talking about the things that relate to the health, safety, and independence of people with disabilities.”
According to the article, 30 of those protesting were from the Western New York Independent Living Center, and four of those people were arrested.
Arrests in 2002
- "Some of us were able to put into practice what we learned about civil disobedience from Bob and Stephie a few days later when we went to Albany and were part of the ADAPT action there. The action turned out to be very exciting and quite effective. Our message was heard --loud and clear. For the first time we had a large crowd. In past Olmstead actions, in Albany, we never had more than 50 people. This time, because many of the (independent living) people that attended the "Our Homes Not Nursing Homes" Conference joined us, we had about 200 people. And for the first time there were arrests. Eight people were arrested, two of us from NYC - myself and Dina Niedelman (with her little dog Tiny). So the State officials now know how serious we are. We also got lots of media coverage, most of it very positive."
- "Mel Tanzman, Nadina LaSpina, T.K. Small and I (Bruce Darling) went to meet with Mr. Wolner. At this point, it seems someone from the state decided to 'show us' that direct action doesn't work. Mr. Wolner didn't show up for the meeting. We waited nearly 45 minutes for him and then returned to the Health Department Tower where we instructed everyone to leave the building.
- "We exited the building and lined up in the Concourse. Kathleen Paultler was shouting, 'Grab a sign. Get in Line!' as loud as she could. We began marching to the Capital. It was awesome. The line seemed to go on forever. Looking back you were struck by the large numbers of people.
- "We got to the elevators that took us up into the Capital Building and a group of about a dozen people got to the first floor before the elevators were shut down. Four people had made it up to the Governor's floor by elevator when State Troupers shut it down. Nadina LaSpina (NYC), Chris Hilderbrant (Rochester), Spitfire Sabel (Philadelphia, PA), and Ann Kaplow (Rochester). Four more came up by the stairs. Dina Niedelman (NYC) crawled with assistance from Larry Fein (Buffalo). Debbie Bonomo (Rochester) was carried part of the way by Bruce Darling (Rochester) and crawled the rest. In all, eight people got up to the second floor."
- "The group was waiting in the Concourse and cheered as each arrestee came out of the State Police Station. I was touched that Bonnie Shoultz was there waiting for us. We walked back to the hotel in single file where we got rooms for the extra people who stayed, including Larry and Todd Vaarwerk from Buffalo. We didn't get a meeting, but we knew we raised community awareness."