This morning, Monday, November 9, 2020, Matthew Rushin signed an offer of a conditional pardon from Governor Northam’s office. The pardon states that the Commonwealth failed to prove malicious intent.
The offer includes a dramatically-reduced the sentence. Matthew will be released within a few months (more information about a release date will be forthcoming).
While this is not arrival at justice, it is a step in that direction. We have called for and believed in a complete and absolute pardon with immediate release since day one because we believe that Matthew did not receive justice.
In this process, we have identified many allies to the autistic community who have helped to highlight ways in which the justice system disproportionately arrests, convicts, and sentences Black and disabled individuals.
While we will continue to advocate for more complete justice for Matthew, we must also continue to work towards a more just society that does not criminalize disability.
NeuroClastic wants to issue thanks to everyone who has contributed to the collective efforts to ask for justice for Matthew, and especially to the autistic community. We know that you felt this case to the core and have given so much of your heart and emotional bandwidth to this at a time of tremendous social unrest.
We especially want to thank Black autistic and disabled advocates and activists, and our Black allies, who know that this fate could be your own or the fate of your children.
We thank Lavern Rushin, Matthew’s mother, for working day and night for justice for Matthew, through cancer and illness and trauma, to do what needed to be done. Also, we thank you for ensuring that the autistic community and autistic rights remain in the conversation, and for already starting the thankless work of advocating for autistic and Black lives outside of your own son’s.
We also thank Matthew’s father, Demetrius, his sister, Briauna, his girlfriend, Erin, and his very close friend, Stefan for helping with information gathering and for standing by Matthew through all of this. We wish that you can all heal from this trauma in the ways that are best for you and in the time that you need.
Thank you to Joan Martin, Osime Brown’s mother. While you fought for justice for your own son, you have championed justice for Matthew and cried many tears for him, too. We will continue to fight to stop the deportation of Osime Brown.
Thank you to Shannon Rees, Saraya Rees’s mother, for your tireless advocacy for justice for Saraya and for holding space in your generous and justice-loving heart for Matthew through this all.
Thank you to Black Lives Matter 757 for starting the petition and for putting your safety at risk to continue to march for Matthew Rushin, and especially to Japharii Jones, Christian Wilson, Braxton Tanaka, and RJ Brothers who were arrested during these peaceful protests with frivolous or fraudulent charges. We continue to advocate for justice for you.
Thank you to the organizations and experts who lent your time and expertise to issue letters of support, especially Kurt Weiss, Marcia Eckerd, Neurodiverse Universe, ASAN, NAMI Virginia, KultureCity (Sean Culkin), Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network, Meg Raby, Arula Ratnakar, Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint, Virginia Autism Project, Sol Mora, Heather Dimmitt, and all who gave your time and professional experience in the interest of justice.
Thank you to the celebrities who have used your platforms and privilege to speak out against injustice, with special thanks to Devon Bostick who has a fierce and authentic love of justice and would have done anything for Matthew. Thank you to Tal Anderson for never stopping or slowing your support and for giving so much of yourself to the autistic community. Your representation matters more than you will know. To Keir Gilchrist, Ricky Whittle, Dominique Wilkins, Kelsey Darragh, Amber Riley, Ben Tribbett, Pete Early, Alison Brettschneider, and Jason Flom– thank you for caring about Black and autistic lives, disability rights, and justice.
Thank you to the legislators and those who are running for office who have listened to the autistic community and have advocated for justice for Matthew and the autistic community: Mikey Pudhorosky, Jennifer Carroll Foy, Jennifer McClellan, Scott Surovell, Barbara Favola, and Jennifer Boysko.
Special thank you to journalists Theresa Vargas and Lindsey Sitz from Washington Post. Theresa, your interest in Matthew’s case and your beautifully-written article showed a respect for and dedication to the autistic community and brought a broader audience to demand justice for Matthew. Thank you for all you have done for Neli Latson, too.
Lindsey, your journalistic ethics and dedication to amplifying Black Autistic voices is what we most need to prevent this from happening to others. Your integrity as reporters is restored hope to a community that often is overlooked, spoken over, disrespected, and dehumanized by the media.
Thank you to Karen Morrison from Cut50 and Fighting4Freedom. You are a miracle worker.
There are too many to name, but from the depths of our collective soul, NeuroClastic wants to thank those of you out there who have labored in silence, behind the scenes, who won’t mind that your names are not mentioned in the interest of getting this news out as quickly as possible.
A Poem for Matthew from Champ Turner
For Us, Freedom has never been free
From the stories I’ve been told
Shackled up and kidnapped
Sent off to auction blocks to be sold
They decided to loosen up on the noose
Let us think we were on our way
Established a whole new set of rules
So we could never get in the game to play
To this day, there’s been progress, but still much injustice
With stories like yours and mine
Wonder if the verdict would be the same
If they could just learn to be colorblind
They lock us up and put us away
They do their very best to treat us cold
No matter. Whether it’s rope, wire, or chains,
They will never chain the soul