April Fawn Scheller, a Middletown woman, member of Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights, and former employee at the Red and Black Cafe, has chained herself to a tree in front of the Middletown courthouse in protest of human rights abuses against people with psychiatric disabilities She seems to have a small gaggle of supporters surrounding her holding signs and chalking messages on the pavement. According to a press release, Scheller wants to “end mental apartheid.” Her grievances include “discrimination through the insane defense, involuntary detention, and forced electroshock therapy.” Some students might remember Scheller from her “madpride presentation” on campus last March, 2012.
Scheller’s full statement can be seen on her website.
UPDATE: Reports state that Scheller has now been surrounded by police.
UPDATE: Threats that she is on state property, subject to arrest.
UPDATE 2:01 pm: Eyewitness says, “A number of cops showed up, 10 or 15. They asked us to move off the property, and all of us agreed except for April. They brought out some huge bolt cutters, but they didn’t use them. For a while they mostly just milled around. and talked. One of them was on the phone with a superior for a while. Then one of their superiors came out of the courthouse wearing a suit and spoke with the other cops, telling them to leave her. All the cops slowly left the area, we moved back onto the lawn, and April remains chained to the tree. It doesn’t seem like they are going to do anything more.
UPDATE 2:11 pm: Reports that CBS3 is on the scene.
UPDATE 2:41 pm: Middletown Patch has arrived, along with Channel 8.
UPDATE 3:13 pm: Middletown Press has dispatched a photographer to the scene.
UPDATE 5:41 pm: April remains chained to the tree outside the courthouse. Many passersby have expressed support and solidarity. She has been accompanied on and off throughout the day by a rolling contingent of supporters. The police are no longer present or making threats. It appears that they are letting her remain on the property for now, although there is no indication that this won’t change in the near future.
UPDATE 6:23 pm: April expresses gratitude to those who have been offering her support and solidarity over the course of the day, both online and elsewhere.
UPDATE 8:00 pm: April has unchained herself and left the courthouse unharmed on her own volition.