Braille Monitor                                                                                March 1986



A Matter of Safety

Recently we have been hearing a great deal about how the blind must be custodialized for their own safety and that of others--no exit row seating in airplanes, no rides at amusement parks, no right to rent safety deposit boxes at banks. Just a matter of safety. Yet, sometimes there is tangible evidence to the contrary. Not long ago the Brockton (Massachusetts) Enterprise reported as follows:

It was on a hot summer night in the mid-1970s that Peter Passalaqua and his girlfriend, Sandy Levine, walked along nearly-deserted Main Street--and stepped into trouble.

They had intended to cross at the Centre Street intersection and proceed to 25 Legion Parkway where the Brockton Judo Club, now defunct, was located. For months Passalaqua had been learning in a basement gym how to hurl opponents to the mat--and this was judo-lesson night.

The couple never got there. Three street toughs stopped them before they could cross the street.

"Hey man!" one said as he grabbed Passalaqua by the shirt.

"Lay off me!" yelled Passalaqua. The shirt-grabber only tightened his hold-- to his instant regret.

Passalaqua used leverage and threw him over his shoulder. The man went through the window of the Shawmut First County Bank. "Ten feet of glass came flying down," Sandy Levine recalls.

The victim came out of the situation cut and bleeding, with a lot to answer for when the police arrived. His buddies took to their heels.

Passalaqua didn't know he was near the bank when he threw the hoodlum. And he never saw his opponent. Some would say the fact he had become skilled in judo was remarkable.

Passalaqua, you see, was blind.