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A Voice For Neli

**Some of the articles (especially the first link) referred to in this post contain expletives and racial slurs, particularly the N word. Though I am uncomfortable with the language, I feel the issue is important and the articles are necessary to explore the entire story.**

I was working on another post this evening when I stumbled across an article about Reginald Latson, the autistic teen who was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer. After that it was increasingly hard for me to concentrate on my light-hearted banter while this story gnawed away at me. So now I am off on one of my many tangents, but without the usual witty comments and jokes.

The articles I have been reading send a little thrill of horror through me. I want to stop reading them but, not unlike a car accident, I am sitting here gawking at the wreckage. There are thousands of links if you google ‘Reginald Latson’ or ‘Neli Latson,’ each one more disturbing than the last.

James is rarely, if ever, out of our sight with the exception of school, and even there he has a 1:1 para to help him throughout the day. But I think there will come a day when he is old enough to be out on his own, and it is my worst nightmare for something like this to happen to him.

Obviously I don’t know all of the facts nor do I know Neli Latson, but I do have an especially educated imagination in this case. I can imagine any police officer approaching James without realizing he is disabled. I can also envision a police officer giving James an order or speaking sternly to him and James getting really worked up over it – if they frisked him for a gun he would be terrified. God forbid if they ever, ever tried to put him in cuffs or put him in a police car. I have tried to restrain James in recent months over things like laying still for the dentist, getting blood drawn and having his blood pressure taken, the key word being tried. It is a simple fact that the older and bigger he gets the harder it is getting. James might be weaker than a typical 10 year old on an average day, but he is still big and can be surprisingly strong when he is in a panic.

Below are the links to several other articles I read, including Lisa’s website and petition for her son.

Here is the original article, which is a completely different story than the link above.

This is one of the less colorful post-sentencing articles I read through, though I encourage you to google a few more – the language and tone in each article can be astoundingly different. It looks as though he was kept in isolation for 8 months of the last year awaiting trial, and was sentenced to 10 1/2 years for assaulting a police officer. The sentence was recently reduced to 2 years, which is part of the reason it is back in the headlines.

Click here to go to the petition site that his mother, Lisa Alexander, has created in the hopes of breaking the story to national media. She also created a website with more information, avoiceforneli.com

My heart goes out to Neli’s mother, Lisa Alexander, and her family. I’m trying to empathize with her situation without thinking too deeply about James, because it is just too gut-wrenching of a subject for me to make personal. Do your own reading and come to your own conclusions. I’m not here to act like I know what happened, but I’ll probably be up tonight thinking about it.

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