Protesters Confront Jerry Lewis At Book Event
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 17, 2005
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--A group of about 12 disability rights advocates confronted Jerry Lewis Wednesday night shouting that the comedian/actor continues to demean them during his annual muscular dystrophy telethons.
The group, most of which belong to a group called "Jerry's Orphans", reportedly heckled Lewis at Chicago's Harold Washington Library as he promoted his new book about his life with Dean Martin.
According to WBBM-TV, when Lewis spotted the group, who sat in wheelchairs in the front row of the auditorium, they started chanting.
When security personnel nearly had the room cleared of the protesters, Lewis reportedly accused them of faking their disabilities, saying to the audience, "These people are going to walk out of those chairs and walk home tonight. I bought those chairs for them."
He then said, "That's it. I'm out of here," and left the stage.
Disability groups have criticized Lewis for using people as objects of pity to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through its Labor Day Telethon. Many have been angered that he calls people who have muscular dystrophy "Jerry's Kids", regardless of their ages, and that his decades-long campaign has focused on raising money for research to eradicate the disability rather than helping deal with rights issues such as accessibility and employment.
"Jerry Lewis Loses Cool With Disability Activists" (WBBM)
"Jerry Lewis Unhinged" (Chicagoist)
"Jerry Lewis v. Disability Rights Activists" (Crip Commentary)