June 23, 2011

Pardon Wrongly-Convicted Autistic Youth, Neli Latson

There is some rank shyt out in the world. Racial profiling and improper imprisonment of mentally-challenged people are high up on the list. Villagers need to know about a young 19-year old man in Stafford (VA) who is a victim of both issues!

Reginald 'Neli' Latson is a young autistic man who was sitting on the front lawn of the public library in Stafford (VA) minding his own business. He was waiting for the library to open. The police saw him and made some assumptions about what a young Black man was doing out on the public library's lawn. They acted on their assumptions and approached Latson. They searched him and found that he had no weapons. The incident should have been over at that point.

However, it appears that Latson didn't show the proper amount of respect to the officers. They continued to harass him ... and his response was to physically resist the officers.  What the police didn't realize was that Latson suffers from autism.  He doesn't understand the normal 'cues' that the rest of us understand.

They arrested him. He was held without access to his family. He was sent for psychiatric evaluation. Eventually he was given a 10-year conviction for resisting arrest.

The Huffington Post has written about the case. Neli's family created a blog to talk about the case. Neli's mother posted a video shortly after his initial arrest to seek support for her son.

I'm joining with other online activist to call for this criminal injustice to be corrected. We need to get Neli into a treatment facility where he can rehabilitate from the trauma he has suffered. Each day that Neli is in the penitentiary he is in danger of missing important cues and getting in more and more trouble because he is just not able to understand what is happening to him. In order for this to happen he needs to get a pardon.

I encourage all villagers to sign the online petition and spread the word!


Black on Campus said...

I can't believe this has happened. There is a lot of public ignorance about Autism Spectrum Disorders, and when this general lack of understanding is combined with racism, the results can be tragic.

Villager said...

Ajuan - One of the best reasons for owning a blog is to shine a light on public ignorance whenever possible..

wrigley1 said...

Wrestled on the same team as the kid in high school and he isn't autistic he just does what he wants when he wants cause his parents let him... However if he was autistic he would have needed special classes in high school. Because there is only one instance of which would make me believe he was autistic he jumped through a glass door. This is affirmative blacktion he resisted officers and was convicted as such if he was autistic why was he out all alone?

SYFTKOG said...

@wrigley1 They are different degrees of Autism High functioning (wont be able to detect so easy to the untrained eye.)He could fact interact within certain limitations .But since the spectrum is so diverse given high stress situations aka being touched might be perceived as a threat. My son is autistic and doesn't look that way to some folks until closer look.So call normal controls mechanism do not always apply. As far special needs class not all autism children can qualify the rules are changing almost every year. Also the school might not have an High functioning AUTISTIC PROGRAM (BUDGET CUTS ).