The last few days, I have been posting on the facebook wall for Unstrange Mind, talking about the case of Reginald Latson. Some people have asked what, specifically, they should do to help in this case, so I’m writing this blog post to answer that question and to explain his situation in a bit more depth.
The Washington Post has an editorial about Reginald Latson’s situation, but here is a summary of the details: Reginald Latson (Neli to his family and friends) is a 22-year-old, black, Autistic man with an intellectual disability (his I.Q. score is below 70.) Four and a half years ago, he was sitting quietly, waiting for the library to open, when someone called the police to complain about the “suspicious black male.” The police arrived and an unpleasant interaction ensued, during which Neli was arrested (according to the police, because he “refused” to give his name. It is unclear whether Neli was able to speak or not in that stressful moment. It is clear that the police were confused about how to question a disabled person waiting for the library to open.)
Although experts have testified that Neli belongs in a facility equipped to treat him properly, he has spent the last four years in a regular jail. This is an abuse of justice — Neli’s autism and intellectual disability make him extremely vulnerable in a prison setting and he deserves proper consideration for that. And he deserves to have proper support and to be moved as quickly as possible to an appropriate facility. A judge already agreed to let Mr. Latson transition to an appropriate facility in Florida but a prosecutor has actively worked to thwart that decision.
Here are some more links to things you might want to read in order to get up to date on this issue:
Tomorrow will be a day of concerted, collective action. You don’t need to feel restricted to only acting tomorrow, but if you are able to join in, you will help to swell the voices on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014.
The main action will happen on Twitter, but you are not limited to only participating through that medium.
If you are on Twitter, you want to tweet to your general audience to encourage them to join this campaign and you want to tweet specifically to
And tell them how you feel about the Latson case. The hash tag for this campaign is:
If the short message of a tweet is not enough to do justice to your opinion about this case, you have a few options. One is to write a letter in the form of a blog post that you can link to in your tweet. Another option is to send a letter through email or even old-fashioned snail mail. You could even make phone calls. Here is the contact information you will need if you want to contact the authorities through means other than Twitter:
Governor Terry McAuliffe
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
web page with email form
Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission
PO Box 367, Richmond, Virginia, 23218
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
web page with email form
Whatever you decide to do, thank you for caring about the fate of Neli Latson and thank you for reading.