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The Autism Spectrum According to Autistic People

Autism neurodiversity

Courtlon "Champ" Turner

Champ Turner

Courtlon "Champ" Turner

Father · Barber · Volunteer · Wrongfully Convicted

Champ is a loving father and a Black barber who was a staple and integral member of his community. He is known by everyone as gentle, selfless, humble, wise, and intuitive.

Champ served as the best man at his friend’s wedding. They were extremely close, but one day his best friend was experiencing extreme paranoia. Champ tried to support his friend through this mental health crisis, but when he took a call from his girlfriend, his friend believed that Champ was on the phone with the FBI to “snitch” on him for selling knock-off purses and shoes. He attacked Champ with a butcher knife, they struggled for several minutes, Champ finally was able to break away, then he dialed 911.

When police arrived, they arrested Champ instead of the white man who attacked him. Champ was charged with aggravated malicious wounding, a class 2 felony equivalent to first degree murder. He’s serving ten years for being attacked by a white man.

Champ has congestive heart failure and is an undiagnosed autistic man with undiagnosed PTSD in a prison. His case has striking parallels to Matthew Rushin’s: they are Black autistic men from Virginia Beach who were criminalized by the Commonwealth Attorney and Virginia Beach Police for having a disability.

We are calling on Governor Ralph Northam for a pardon for Champ Turner. Self defense is not a crime. Being disabled is not a crime. Being autistic is not a crime.

Osime Brown

Osime Brown

Vulnerable Autistic · Son · Wrongfully Convicted

Osime Brown is 21, autistic, and Black. As a teen, he was pulled from his loving home and placed into foster care. One day, when older boys from his group home stole a cell phone, he tried to stop them. He was given a five-year prison sentence for theft.

In prison, he has been severely mistreated, bullied, and abused.

Now, the UK government wants to deport him to Jamaica where he knows no one or nothing.

Matthew Rushin

Matthew Rushin is a young, Black, autistic man with a curly headed afro and a bright smile

Matthew Rushin

Student · Musician · Son · Wrongfully Convicted

Matthew Rushin is a young, Black autistic man. A year and a half ago, he was a mechanical engineering student at Old Dominion University. In January of 2019, Matthew was involved in a car accident. Within hours, he was charged by a magistrate with attempted murder. He is currently serving a 50 year sentence with 40 years suspended.