Friday, July 27, 2007

AG Bell Protest: Day One, My Deaf Daughter Harmed

From Barb DiGi's side of the story:

Since we were told by this hotel assistant manager, Jenny, that it was permissible to distribute the flyer outside only, not inside, so we followed the crowd walking toward out of the building during a lunch break. As my daughter, Brianna, and I walked to the curbside where the participants were loading on a bus, we saw Rachelle tussling with Jenny who attempted to swipe the flyer out of her hands. We then walked briskly to the sidewalk area thinking that it would be better since we were not on the premises. As we passed out the flyer, some individuals happily accepted it and some declined. What I noticed was those who declined tend to be well dressed white women.

One thing I wanted to add (that was not included in my video clip) was that when I approached to a Puerto Rico woman, her eyes lit when she saw the word bilingual. She gave her thumbs up.

Before I know it, this Jenny snatched several pieces of flyer from Brianna then from me. I confronted her that we are not breaking the policy as we are outside on a sidewalk. She said, "No! This is MY property!" She then shredded the paper into pieces and walked away from our location babbling to herself.

A few hours later, Brianna and I had down time where she was able to review what happened earlier. She expressed how scared she was and mentioned that Jenny scratched her hand. I said,"WHAT ? " had I known this earlier, my reaction would be totally different. I didn't even realize my daughter was intimated and scared by Jenny who conducted unprofessional, unreasonable reaction. It was suspected that Jenny was ordered by AG Bell leaders to confront with us. I felt furious and dismayed making my daughter a victim. She had no right to scratch my daughter and make her scared.

This transcript was composed by two people, Jenny Cantrell and Brian Riley who graciously offered their transcription services.

((Footage of Raychelle Harris being accosted by the hotel manager))


We’re outside!… (after the manager leaves) whoa.


We were outside the hotel and I could pass out our flyers. Hey, it’s a free country, right? No problem there. I was outside and conference attendees passed me on both sides as they were leaving the building. I passed out the flyers with a smile on my face and people took the flyers, seeming to accept them just fine. I kept passing them out as people walked out past me and it was peaceful. Suddenly, much to my shock, the manager was in my face, a woman with shoulder-length hair, approached me and seized my flyers. It happened so fast. She forcefully grabbed the flyers. I was holding them as she tried to pull them out of my hands. She was trying to speak to me while tugging and yanking on the flyers. She suddenly let go and walked away. WHOA. I, stunned, couldn’t help but WONDER… would she do this to hearing protesters? I mean, she might approach hearing protesters and talk to them. But would she actually grab onto flyers in an attempt to confiscate them? Would she rip them, like she actually did to someone else?


I was walking outside and I looked over and noticed something happening — I saw Raychelle’s tussle with the security guard, the very same security guard, um, manager, named Jenny. After the struggle ended, I told my daughter to come along with me to the sidewalk area, because I remembered very clearly that this was specifically where we were permitted to distribute flyers. We, happily, were right by the bus area where conference attendees were lined up to board. We seized the opportunity to pass our flyers out to the people in line. My daughter and I were passing out flyers peacefully. Everything seemed to be going fine. But then wouldn’t you know it? All of a sudden, the woman came up to us the minute she saw us, Jenny I mean, and GRABBED the flyers from my daughter’s hands. My eyes flew to the manager. She then snatched the flyers from mine and I was so confused and stunned. This was totally unexpected and it happened so fast. She just came up from behind and yanked them from us. Bewildered, I said, “Wait, what are you doing? What are we doing wrong? We’re here on the sidewalk area.” She said, “No, this is my property! You all just get out! You’re not allowed!” And the she began ripping up all our flyers! I couldn’t believe what was happening. I just felt that she completely shut us out. There was no attempt to discuss it with me or try to initiate a dialogue. NONE. She totally jumped the gun by snatching the flyers from my daughter, confusing her and me too. Then, as we were still reeling from what had just happened, she just up and left without finishing the discussion. She walked away like this very angry woman, just walking around like that. You can see how crazed she looks on the video. That’s evidence.

I pondered the recent events. Later on, yes, I was still stunned. I talked it over with my daughter to make sure she was all right. We discussed feelings at length, and she shared that she was stunned and afraid. This went on for a while. Some time passed after that discussion. But it wasn’t until only one hour ago that she finally shared something, y’know, during quiet time, just the two of us bonding and sharing. My daughter told me, “That woman scratched my hand.” I was like WHAT??? A SCRATCH? If I had known this in the first place, I would have reacted much differently at the time. With the knowledge that she TOUCHED her, I became furious, unhappy, and heartbroken. It grieved me to think of what that woman did to my daughter. What will my daughter think? Will she hate this hotel and hearing people because one treated her this way? This was so completely unnecessary. She should have approached me first in a calm manner and talked it over with me, not simply grab and yank the flyers out of our hands. I was actually following their policies! This just threw me off and she was trying to be mean and squash us. When my daughter told me all this, I put my own feelings on hold and focused on supporting her. I’m feeling down and I’m grieving. These feelings will fade with time, but at the same time, I will do something! I will have to. I’ll write letters, tell others my story, let it out. And all of you can add your own contributions to the effort. The process will gain momentum. What right do they have to do that? Scratch into her hand like that? Is that right for them to do that? No!


Today I was at the AG Bell convention. We were in a group, passing out flyers to people. Everything was fine when I saw Raychelle trying to keep her flyers from the woman. I watched, shocked. We walked fast to the sidewalk. It would be better. I was just passing them out with my mom. We were just passing them out when I saw; I had no idea, the manager, behind my back, grabbed my hand and scratched it. It hurt. Ow. I watched her grab my mom’s papers. I watched, scared. She grabbed the my papers out of my hands and then ripped them up into pieces! I felt really scared. I watched, uh-oh. What’s wrong with her?


From Amy Cohen Efron:

The morale of this story: Deaf people uses our hands to communicate, and we desire that all Hearing people to use THEIR hands to communicate with us. We do not tolerate having THEIR hands to control us, by touching, pushing, snatching, hitting, grabbing, but not using their hands to communicate.

Why cannot people just try to use their hands to communicate, instead of using them on us?

That is a very serious communication breakdown, but sad, very… very… common for us to be controlled by their hands all of the time.

The irony is… hearing babies are encouraged to use their hands to communicate before they can speak. Deaf babies are not allowed, and will not…

Think about this.


drmzz said...

Her uncivil conduct of assault is unnecessary toward a deaf child. Highly unlikely she’d do that to a hearing child. The nerve.

JFLMad said...

You should call the police for the physical assault on your daughter.

It does not matter if it's a small scratch or whatever, they should not touch somebody at all.

mishkazena said...

Barb, I hope you have already contacted the police. This is physical assault. That manager had no business contacting a minor and should be held accountable for her actions.

I am so sorry Brianna was exposed to this outrageous behavior and harmed in the process.

cnkatz said...

Hi Brianna and Barb,

Goosepimples and mild shock of joy enveloped me as I watched this vlog. Oy vey!
Stand up as a Deaf Child with her Deaf Mother.
March on, Forge on!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry about what happened today and that Brianna was physically assaulted.

Having had a hearing superior hit my hand at my former job is a horrible feeling, so I can only imagine. Very patronizing. No one should be justified in doing that at all.

Let's hope for a better day tomorrow.


Stephen J. Hardy said...


That is assault and battery upon your daughter. Report to the police right away. You need this for lawsuit purposes. Scratching is assault or any form of unwanted touch is also battery.

Dianrez said...

The emotional impact of that attack upon Brianna will take a long time to fade. I am sorry that is an impression by AGBAD who should be more aware of the harm they cause. The hotel staff are only taking their cue from the AGBAD people, so take your action directly to the officers of that organization.

Davy said...

That is number one to take a picture of her hand that scratch and report it to police the sooner the better. Police should give the copy for your self for the record in future need in case that might call up.
Wow Grrrrr …I don’t like that at all. I support you all the way.


Barb DiGi said...

Clarification: There is no appearance of scratch marks now. It is a kind of scratch that makes your skin white so it went away. Brianna didn't tell me until recently when we got to be alone. This matter will be shared to the police tomorrow, no question. She is doing okay for now. Thanks for your support.

Anonymous said...

u all should make a small claim and sue jenny for what she did to u all and for ur child. she had no rights to do that. wel all r deaf and we have our rights!! we support u all 100%!! do something abt it asap

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry that has happened to your daughter which should never have happened.

Actually, it should be reported immediately. Good luck.

C said...

As a mom, I'd be livid too. I would call the cops too. They wouldn't do that to a hearing protester. Says a lot.

Jean Boutcher said...


I feel bad that you and your little daughter, Brianna, have experienced something unhospitabale at the AGB Conference. I hope you are contemplating writing a letter to the AGB Association about the traumatic experience. I feel that they should write a personal letter of apology to you and Brianna. I have been in anti-war, anti-hunger, anti-poverty rallies since 2002. All hearing people would be polite and either accept or say "thanks but no thanks" when I distribute leaflets. Why did the AGB treat deaf people liked animals? That was an unpardonable act of AGB.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that but glad nothing was serious injury.

Personally, I think you're just looking for trouble. If I were you, I would not bring my child to the protest for their safety. Again I am sorry about your child's incident.

Oh and by the way, you'd probably track my IP address since I'm anonymous :-) heh heh

Anonymous said...

Jenny has no common sense! Report to the Marriott management.

That is good to see Jenny's face. She has no right snatching Brianna's flyers without talking. Her behavior is unacceptable and uncalled for.

AG Bell destroyed everything itself.

White Ghost

Squ65 said...

please please report to the police and Marriott HQ. It is totally unacceptable. I am glad Brianna is okay -- but it is scary the young girl was confronted by the stranger!

Mr. Sandman said...


as others have said, so sorry this happened. I'm glad that you have both suffered no serious injuries thus far. Good luck with the rest of the protest, and stay safe!

Anonymous said...

Barb, hope someone who have been videoptaped between Jenny and Brianna.. which will be evidence and showed to police... Hope it will helpful for you...
Am glad that your daughter Brianne is okay now.. and stay safe!!!

Around the World

Judge said...

Pardon my french, SCREW Jenny!

Report it to police!

I hope your daughter Brianne is ok today!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 2:05 am,

So Barb's looking for trouble? Interesting. Does this mean that children should not see their parents standing up for what they believe in? It's inappropriate for parents to model peaceful, nonviolent ways of demonstration?

Many parents bring their children to peace rallies or animal rights demonstrations. Are those parents wrong?

I personally am sorry Drolz's and Barb's children had to experience what they did, but kudos to Drolz and Barb for being fantastic role models. They are raising their children to be activists that will make themselves heard in appropriate ways.


Deaf Socrate'sTrail said...

Barb DiGi,
DO something about taking a legal action and file a lawsuit, and nobody touches your daughter while you take charge of responsibilit to protect your daughter. It is very serious concerning, Better to find out what law under Virginia, Security manager falses that sidewalk belongs to that hotel. No company has their own public sidewalk, I am sorry to see the incident of your daughter. I hope your daughter is alright!

Anonymous said...

Where is Jeff and Susie Rosen and Kelby Brick? THey did a wonderful job providing advice to students at Gallaudet, and will be very helpful now with the Bell and Marriott people. I agree 100% that the manager Jenny cannot grab the fliers out of peoples hands. I doubt Marriott accepts that.

deafk said...

Barb, I am sorry for your daughter to experience such like this. Report to the police, yeah...

This brought memories of some deafies in mainstream suffered from teachers being “bully” to them. Better establish a new word for this behavior, cuz it happens all the time.


Lisa C. said...

Could you please report it to police. Its like someone snatching a purse from your little girl. I won't tolerate it!

Anonymous said...

Picture of Jenny..

Anonymous said...

To anonymous of 10:24 am...

I cant believe it... that Jenny was on showing... drats... Eventhough her behavior is really horrible showing toward DEAF people!!!! that is UNPROFESSIONAL!!!!

Around the World

Gawd said...

Sorry to hear about your daughter getting hurt and being scared. This was uncalled for.

Maybe it would be helpful to educate the hotel staff on how to get your attention by tapping on your shoulder or whatever as I am sure it is a new experience for them as they probably never saw or dealt with a deaf person. I suspect that maybe Jenny was yelling at you and your daughter and when she felt that you didn't respond back, she literally blew up which was not necessary. I could be wrong on it but I've had to educate some hearing people on how to approach me when they needed my attention or how to communicate with me.

Just a suggestion. Hope the day will go more peacefully today for all of you. Keep us informed as to what happens. I see that Jenny has been working with the Marriott for many years, she must have landed in a new job as a security manager as all of the info I checked into Google which indicates that she was the director of housekeeping. If that so, I wonder if she does not know how to act on her new job?

ASL Risen said...

I want to thank you and your 2 awesome children for being at AGBAD!! Wow!

Im glad that you are going report to the police about your sweet innocent daughter, Brianna! Iam so glad that she is doing fabulous job for the sake of Deaf and HH children!!! Hugs to you and your both awesome children! Shawn

Brian Riley said...

She's not the security manager. She is the "Assistant General Manager" of the hotel, which is higher than the Manager's position. She started out as a bellhop in 1979.

She should have known better. It's absurd what she did. Have these people lost their minds? There's no excuse.

Jamie said...

I am sorry your daughter was hurt. However, think about what you are teaching your daughter! You are teaching her that it is okay to protest, anytime, anywhere. Without permission in advance! I read and re-read Egbert's blog looking for evidence that permission to protest had been secured in advance and could not find it! There is an alternative to protesting, as you have probably already seen on my blog at Berke Outspoken.

Barb DiGi said...

HI everyone,

We are back home safe and sound! It has been a very enriching experiencing for all of us especially for my children.They said they would do all over again. Brianna was aware that Jenny's behavior was unprofessional and learned that the DBC members behaved far off much better.


Of course I already thought about what I am teaching my children which is the value of freedom of speech. I don't think I need you to give me this lecture on what I should be teaching my children.

I have taught Brianna that passing out the flyer on a public sidewalk (which is perfectly legal) is a form of freedom of speech. This is the exercise of expression our thoughts. Why should we teach our chidren to be passive? To be quiet?

I felt that you misunderstood the procedure of our protest since the type of protest was about spreading social awareness, not like we were marching with picket signs which would normally require a permit or some sort of a permission. We were the guests of the hotel and had the right to be there with the understanding that the hotel policy was to be followed. I had witnessed that the security kept on changing their policy verbally and had no proof to show us what they said that was not allowed in black and white. Nevertheless, we cooperated and proceeded to follow their so called verbal policy.

Another thing was that there was a group of people wearing red shirts identifying themselves along with their messages in the hotel so why couldn't we do the same? As for passing out the flyer, we followed the hotel policy since we were told only to do it outside on the sidewalk. It was Jenny who went overboard and breached the agreement. You should be giving Jenny the lecture on not snatching the flyer without our permission on a public place.

In closing, we have not broken any laws according to the police, mind you. They even said it outloud that they didn't even think it was a big deal to pass out the flyer INSIDE the hotel but the hotel has a right to form their own policy as it is a matter of their property. So please don't haste to yell fire before you get all the facts. Thank you.

B.A.D. said...

Jamie - This was not a BIG FIGHT for our rights, we were just telling the AGbad what WE believed in...all with due RESPECT. Nohting is wrong with disagreeing with RESPECT, of course especially about AGbad....
I really have been so in disbelief with what happened to Brianna. I am just so HAPPY she is OK!!! Still a scratch can go away in "an hour" but she will be emotionally hurt by Jenny....I really am FURIOUS with AGbad more than ever, and even with the UNprofessional of Jenny handling Brianna that way? OMG!!! Immature!!!
Welcome home, and relax and have ice cream :-)

drmzz said...

Right on Barb for putting Jamie in her place. Enuff already. Verbal policy, oh plez, but it's amazing you guys complied any way and have more class than the rest of 'em. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Hey Barb!

I wanna to give you a big, big, big group hug to you and your adorable kids! You have taught so much moral values to your kids. Now, your kids will be intelligent and "know what to do" dealing with the mean people.

I am very proud of Brianna for the way she handle and behaved when the manager, Jenny made the hostile on her.

Lastly, you did a fab-u-lous job for raising your wonderful and powerful kids! They will be the wonderful and GREATEST role models for our deaf community.

I am looking for your next post in this b/vlog. Can't wait to SEE yours.


White Ghost

Deaf Socrate'sTrail said...

Barb DiGi,
I saw you with your children at Crystal City Court Food with others and wore yellow T shirts. too bad I did not have a chance of meeting you in a person. I stood and observed then I zoomed! Anyway all of your group did good job very peaceful protestors. That's matter of important! Excellent job!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your daughter. She is a child and the woman who did this should not even have confronted your daughter because she is a minor. She should have asked who's child it is and talked to the adult with her. She should be formally repremanded and a police report should be made. It does not matter if AGB told her to confront the group... approaching the child was wrong and unprofessional. She obviously did not do the same thing to an adult because they would have not allowed her to touch them ... She picked the cowards way out!

Anonymous said...

The AG Bell convention didn't have shuttle buses. Were you giving the flyers to the right group? Not that it excuses the manager's behavior. Just wondering.

Brian Riley said...

Just a small point of clarification....

Jenny Botero has been working for the Mariott International corporation for 23 years, since 1984 as a bellperson, or bellhop. Before that, she began working at a hotel for the first time in 1979.

She has no excuse for violating the law and behaving so badly.

Kelly - said...

Hi Barb -

My husband and I wanted y'all to know that we are rooting for all of you! :)

In fact, my husband said, you go girl! ;)

Glad that your adorable girl is doing okay. Just think, they will be the ones to tell their grandkids of this event!

Kelly -

ASL Risen said...

Good late morning, Barb!

You are so ADORABLE working mom! Glad to know that you and your 2 AWESOME kids are safe back home!

I am so PROUD of you and your 2 Super Deaf kids standing so STRONG for our future Deaf Children generations!

BIG HUGS to you and your 2 adorable kids! Shawn