Over 45,000 people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities died while living at a California state hospital or developmental center between the 1880’s and 1960’s. Many were buried anonymously in unmarked or mass graves and did not receive recognition or acknowledgment as human beings, in life or in death.

The California Memorial Project hosted ceremonies Sept. 18 to restore dignity and honor to individuals with disabilities who died at state hospitals.

Among the ceremonies was one at Patton State Hospital, which has cared for those with mental and developmental disabilities since 1883.

Robyn Gantsweg of Disability Rights California gave a brief history, including the changes in treatment of those with disabilities, emphasizing that there is now an effort to record their history, identify their grave sites and mark their graves with dignified markers instead of the original stone markers with numbers on them.

Current patients told of their progress, thanks to modern treatment.

People First of California has joined with Disability Rights to promote the recognition and observe the memory of deceased patients.

People First of California (www.peoplefirstca.org) envisions all people with disabilities will have the opportunity to gain empowerment through unity and respect for each other.

Disability Rights California is a nonprofits organization founded in 1978 to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Visit (www.disabilityrightsca.org), Facebook and twitter @DisabilityCA......

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