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The Wide Angle

June/July 1996
Volume 1 No 7

Patricia Mullen A Shattered Image

by Suzanne Szames

The fat community is morning the loss of one of their own. Patricia Mullen of Chicago died in her home. While her family and friends mourn her passing, they also must deal with the indignities that she suffered after her death at the hands of the Chicago Police Department.

Patricia was found dead by her daughters when they arrived home from school. The neighbors called the police department to handle the situation.

The police officers gave no regard to her humanity. They dragged Patricia's naked body from the bathroom to the living room and let her lie there, naked, for five hours while they ate her food, and played Nintendo. The curtains were wide open. When curious neighbors peeked into the windows, they yelled "The fat lady's dead. Want something to eat?" They took pleasure at prodding her with their boots to watch her fat body jiggle. When they finally removed her body from the house, they left her still naked body at the curb.

What was Patricia's crime? She died fat. For this she was treated worse than a criminal. Her nude body was dragged to the curb like yesterday's trash, left for all who cared to view and mock.

There are not enough words to describe this type of indignity. Regardless of how much Patricia weighed, she was a woman, a mother, a sister, a friend and a human being. While it is impossible to restore the dignity that was taken from her, we can honor her memory and raise awareness to prevent a travesty such as this from happening again. We will not let this atrocity be swept under the rug by a society that treats fat people as less than second class.

We, the fat community in San Diego, joined others in taking action and telling her story. A march and rally was held in Chicago on May 18th. As an act of solidarity, we held a candlelight vigil in her memory.

The PAT MULLEN MEMORIAL FUND has been established for her three surviving children. We will forward all donations.

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