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Utah Activists Skirt Barricades To Defy Feds On Off-Road Access Rules

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

SAN RAFAEL SWELL, UTAH--While about 40 off-road enthusiasts cheered them on, a group of disability rights activists drove their all-terrain vehicles around a barricade and down a remote road last Saturday in direct defiance of the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The advocates, one of whom reportedly had strapped his oxygen bottle to the front of his ATV, want the agency to reopen some of public lands that have been put off limits to them.

"We want our land back," said Richard Beardall, president of the Americans with Disabilities Access Alliance and organizer of the public act of civil disobedience.

Beardall told the Salt Lake Tribune he expected to be fined for his activism. He said he plans to fight the penalty, a possible $250 fine, in order to force the courts to look at the issue.

"To preserve civil rights, sometimes action has to be taken," Beardall said. "[Rosa] Parks wouldn't go to the back of the bus, and we want the right to use the road."

BLM manager Roger Bankert said that officers were made aware of the action, but that he decided it "would not be wise" to send officers to the site during the protest.

Disabled activists fight feds (Salt Lake Tribune)
BLM will cite defiant ATV rider (Associated Press via Casper Star-Tribune)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.