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Friday, April 20, 2012
Event Title: Patricio “Pat” Figueroa, Jr. Birthday
Friday, April 20, 2012

Patricio "Pat" Figueroa, Jr.
Patricio Figueroa, also known as Pat Figueroa was born in Catano, Puerto Rico on April 20. Pat is an artist, an author, a disability activist and advocate for people with disabilities, publisher, web designer, an inventor, entrepreneur, husband and father. He is one of ten children of Patricio and Josefina Figueroa. He founded the first independent living center in NYS in 1978, CIDNY, co-founded the 504 Democratic Club, and is the publisher of the national disability newspaper, Independence Today (<http://www.iTodaynews.com> ).

On November 21, 1980, Pat Figueroa, Jr., and the staffs of CIDNY, BILC, and members of Disabled In Action (DIA), took over the headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, trapping then Chairman Richard Ravitch <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Ravitch> for over 10 hours. The event got national and international coverage even though John Tesh, then a local reporter for the CBS Channel 6 affiliate, was the only reporter allowed in to speak to the sit-in demonstrators. The disabled activists, all part of a group named Mass-transit Thru Access, blocked the three elevators with wheelchairs, and blocked the doors to the stair wells with heavy desks, filling cabinets, and other heavy items after letting staff members leave down the staircase. Figueroa, the leader and master-mind of the take-over of the MTA headquarters, refused to release Ravitch until he committed to negotiating in good faith with the disability community.
Around 7 PM, the NYC Tactical Squad forced one of the stair-well doors opened, and moved in to remove the protesters. All 232 demonstrators were removed, none were arrested but Richard Ravitch was forced to negotiate with the disability community, and eventually lost a lawsuit, under NYS law, that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The ADA cites this lawsuit litigated by James Weisman, from the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association. Ravitch was the chairman of the M.T.A. during the 11-day 1980 New York City transit strike <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_New_York_City_transit_strike>, receiving death threats; in April 1981, a guard was injured in a shooting outside Ravitch's office by an armed intruder. " Struggling for disability advances has been akin to guerriIla warfare," he explains, "and at times my tactics had some people labeling me the 'Che Guevara' of disability'."
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