On August 4, 2020, Matthew Rushin turned 22. We call for his release as his gift.

Matthew’s sister, Briauna, writes a heartfelt message:

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REPOST FROM MATTHEW’S SISTER BRIAUNA @briauna.rushin . . It doesn’t seem like a happy day without you here. Nevertheless, happy birthday! I still cannot believe that I haven’t been able to look into your chocolate brown eyes in 578 days. It doesn’t get easier. It definitely gets harder with each passing day. I cannot wait until the day you are home. We will make homemade fish sticks and have a Wii bowling tournament. We will also go through your memory box and I’ll explain each token to the best of my ability. I will not stop praying or fighting until the day you are released. The justice system has failed you. You are such a kind soul who wouldn’t hurt a fly. May God continue to watch over you. May God continue to bless you with all that you deserve. Happy 22nd Birthday, Matthew Rushin ❤️ As Frank Ocean once said, “I may be younger, but I look after you.” #giftmatthewfreedom #Freematthewrushin

A post shared by FREE MATTHEW RUSHIN (@justice4matthewrushin) on

Daisy has some warm words to share with Matthew:

Dearest Matthew.
Today’s your birthday. I can’t stop thinking about your sweet nature, intelligent eyes, and exuberant smile. […] Most of all I can’t stop thinking about you being punished and tortured for being black and autistic- nothing else. […]
Any system who does this to such a person- who imprisons and abuses an angel such as Matthew, who has this much hatred for the diverse and neurodiverse community, who can look at a face like Matthew’s and feel anything but love- is a system I will dedicate my life to fighting.



Kayla Smith writes a supportive note to Matthew:

Kaylah Taylor composed and sang a beautiful song for Matthew:

Kenndal Sales gives a Kazoo lesson while simultaneously raising awareness and wishing Matthew a happy birthday:

She also draws an amazing sketch for him:

Becca Thomas outlines Matthew’s situation and urges the public to email Governor Ralph Northam to grant Matthew a complete pardon.

Please take some time to call the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, at ‭(804) 786-2211‬ and ask that he grant Matthew Rushin a full pardon. You may remember the previous post I shared about Matthew’s story, how he was coerced into a plea deal that he didn’t understand for a crime he did not commit. Matthew’s case is currently being reviewed by the Governor so this time is crucial to advocate for him. He is only in jail because he is autistic and Black, and right now he needs medical treatment and care. Find the petition and the link to action steps plus more information in my bio. Follow @justice4matthewrushin for all updates and more ways to help.


She wishes Matthew a happy birthday while educating the public about his predicament. Accompanying her message are wonderful designs by Maggs Dao:

And to Matthew I want to say that you have tireless advocates sharing your story. I hope that well before your next birthday you are reunited with your family. I hope that you can come home to eat your favorite foods, play piano, get the medical attention you need, heal, and live your life freely. Being autistic is not a crime, and being Black is not a crime. I hope Ralph Northam can see that giving you a full pardon is the right thing to do.


Brie Padro reflects on Matthew’s story and shares a great visual she painted:

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🎉 GIFT MATTHEW FREEDOM! 🎉 Happy 22nd birthday Matthew!!#giftmatthewfreedom . . I remember when I first heard about Matthew Rushin. I came across his picture on Instagram and I saw my daughter Alexia, in his eyes. Then I read his story and I wept. . . Matthew was sentenced to 50 years in jail for a car accident. See Matthew has Autism and ADHD. With this diagnosis comes some traits most nuerotypicals see as quirky. However the cops took these normal autistic behaviors to mean that he was trying to kill himself. One of these traits is Echolalia, repeating of sounds or words spoken by other people. For my child, she repeats a Japanese phrase she heard once, constantly. Don’t know what it means but she says it all the time! . . In the shock of the accident Matthew repeated the words of then the other driver. “Are you trying to kill your self?!” Matthew repeated him, saying “Trying to kill myself.” . . Matthew was denied hospital care, psychiatric evaluation, and was arrested without bail. It took just 6 hours for him to be processed and sentenced. It has now been a year, and his family is still advocating for him to receive a full pardon. . . I’m sharing Matthew’s story today in hopes that you will sign his petition and support this young man and his family. A link of resources for Matthew is in my bio. I painted this picture of Matthew last night, inspired by the lovely video of him playing the piano. It is my hope he will soon be reunited with his family. 💕 . . #freematthewrushin #matthewrushin #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismfamily #adhdawareness #anxietyawareness #socialjustice #blm #blackautisticlivesmatter #autisticadults #neurodiversity #disabilityawareness

A post shared by Brie Padro (@thebriepadro) on

Lisa Lilianstrom and Baby Yoda fully support the #FreeMatthewRushin cause together:

Baby Yoda fully supports the cause to #freematthewrushin. I learned about Matthew’s case after the death of George Floyd. Matthew is wrongfully serving time in prison, he was in a car accident the police did not do their jobs, they branded him a criminal. He did not get mental health treatment or medical treatment for his brain injury that he had from a previous accident. He is in jail for being Autistic and black.

Today is his birthday and I want to call on others to call on @governorralphnortham to issue a complete pardon for Matthew. He does not deserve to be in jail, he deserves to be home with his family in a comfortable environment around people he loves.


Braxton, who has marched with Matthew’s mother to support Matthew, sends a spirited happy birthday:

Happy Birthday King, 22 years strong!


Maria Louise wishes Matthew a happy birthday and arranges her windows to be a call to action:

Spreading the word in Baltimore that today is your birthday. Hoping people will read and share your story and answer the call to action.
•You are Loved, Matthew•

louise 3

Cabrona Autista sends Matthew happy birthday wishes, followed by a fabulous collage by Kate:

Happy birthday to a sweet soul facing gross negligence and injustice.


Cat Lady Justice sends Matthew a supportive message:

Happy birthday, Matthew Rushin!

I hope that the love and support of our community is reaching you during this incredibly difficult time and helping carry you through until all this is over. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling right now—but I hope that, at least for today, we can help you feel less alone.

You deserve better. You matter. We are fighting for you!



Lucy Rebecca simply describes the obvious ableism and racism Matthew has had to face:

Matthew is turning 22 today.
Two weeks from tomorrow, I’ll also turn 22. I’ll celebrate at home with my family, not alone in a hot prison cell.
I was in a car accident once, too, and it was my fault. Everyone was safe. It was the day of my high school graduation, and the police congratulated me and let me go on my way.
I don’t take this for granted. Because I am a white person, and because I am neurotypical, I get to celebrate my 22nd birthday as a free woman.
Matthew is in prison for ten years for being in a non-fatal car accident. He is a sweet, kind, smart young college student with a love of and talent for writing poetry. He’s also Black and on the Autism spectrum.
Please, in honor of Matthew’s birthday today, sign the petition, email, call, share, follow, do whatever you can to help him. My heart is just breaking for him and his family. This is already the second birthday they have missed with him.
Lizzie is a passionate advocate for her fellow neurodiverse people. She’s been thinking a lot about Matthew; we all have. This isn’t right; it isn’t just. This isn’t a matter of politics. This is something we should all be able to unite over and change together.
Happy birthday Matthew. You sound like an amazing soul and you deserve so much more than what is happening to you. ❤️ We will keep fighting for you!!


Erin Hull writes a caring message for Matthew and wishes him a happy birthday:

Happy Birthday Matthew!!! I love you more than anything. 2 years ago today we celebrated your birthday together by watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Today, you are alone in prison. Every day I spend away from you breaks my heart. The milestones that we should be celebrating together are especially difficult. But, I know you will come home. We will not stop fighting until the injustices you have suffered are made right. I love you 💜💙



Osime Brown’s mother wishes Matthew a happy birthday:

Happy Birthday Matthew From Osime’s Mom, who understands better than anyone what Matthew’s mother is going through right now. 🖤

osime mum


“There is no excuse not to fight for him if you’re living free.” ~Olivia


I will not go a day without fighting for Matthew’s safety and freedom. I don’t care how annoyed yall get with the “political posts”. This is not a political issue. This is a racism issue. This is a neurodiverse issue. Virginia lawmakers and those in charge are doing nothing to protect this innocent young Autistic Black man. Matthew Rushin deserves to be home celebrating his birthday with his mama! I am turning 22 this year and could never even imagine spending my birthday alone, sick in a cell. It’s inhumane. Please do your part and contact the officials today! It takes little to no time. There is no excuse not to fight for him if you’re living free. Please. Happy birthday Matthew! We’re gonna get you out of there. Whatever it takes.



Stefan wishes a lovely happy birthday to his friend while sharing nostalgic images and videos:

I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MATTY BOY! I love and miss you dearly. You will forever be the light in all darkness. Cant wait to give you a “stef hug”. The moment we see each other again the first stop will be the beach with rum! Love ya bud foreva and always!


Destinee Angel shares original artwork:

Happy birthday Matthew Rushin!!
(Editor’s note: we reject the puzzle piece as a symbol for autistics, but we do dig the effort and spirit and understand that our allies are still learning)



Nicola Willis wishes Matthew a sweet happy birthday:

Happy 22nd Birthday Matthew Rushin


Robert Lloyd shares some phenomenal sand art:

Those tiny dots? Those are people, for scale.


Meranda Randyrob sends enthusiastic birthday wishes to Matthew and acknowledges all those who did the same:

Happy Birthday Matthew Rushin from Katie Del Rio & Graham Rogers:

Happy Birthday Matthew Rushin from Netflix’s Atypical and Friends:


And adorable autistic 4-year-old superhero wishes Matthew Rushin a happy birthday:

A Song for Matthew Rushin by Joey King:

Happy birthday Matthew Rushin! Big 22! Sending you all the love in my heart. I was thinking about what to do for your big day and decided to do what I do best and write a cheesy song for ya! I hope you like it, and I hope to see you home safe and sound very soon! We all love you, and we’ll never, ever stop fighting for you. ❤️❤️❤️

Rox wishes Matthew a happy birthday with a beautiful painting:

Happy 22nd birthday to Matthew Rushin, a Black autistic poet and photographer who loves sunsets. He was unjustly sentenced to 50 years for a traffic accident.

To Matthew, if you see this: Your poetry is beautiful, and your life is beautiful. We are working to get you home. I hope this little painting can bring you some joy today. Happy birthday.


Sonja shares some impressive nail art:

Thinking of you on your birthday, alone when you should be home. We will not stop fighting for you Matthew.


Nicole shares a powerful graphic:

Matthew Rushin is a young black man with autism who was sentenced to 50 years in prison on November 6th 2019 for a non-fatal car accident. His family is asking for help and sharing updates on @justice4matthewrushin on Instagram.


Erin Ekins records a video message for Matthew:

Matthew is a young man who has been abused by the system for being Black and autistic, and is spending his 22nd birthday, today, in prison. Please join me in asking @GovernorVA to #GiftMatthewFreedom. Happy birthday, Matthew! We’ll get you home.

“I just want to wish Matthew Rushin a massive, massive happy 22nd birthday, from all the way over here in England, and to just let you know that there are people all over the world who are trying to get you out from where you are and get you home where you belong. We all absolutely believe that we can get you there, and we absolutely adore you and are behind you all of the way. You do not deserve to be where you are, on this, your 22nd birthday, and we are gonna make sure that your 23rd birthday is where you belong with your family. You are a gorgeous spirit, and we’re not gonna stop fighting for you. So, happy birthday Matthew, from England and from all of the autistic community. So *blows kiss*. We’ll get you home soon.”

Ari and Jigglypuff wish Matthew a happy birthday also through a video recording:

It’s Matthew Rushin’s 22nd birthday today and he should be celebrating it at home with his loved ones! Happy Birthday, Matthew. People all around the world are thinking of you.

“Hi Matthew! I’m Ari from Germany and I wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I didn’t have a birthday hat at home but thankfully Instagram’s got me covered. And Jigglypuff is wishing you a happy birthday as well. *Blows kiss*.”

Dr. Marcia Eckerd sums up Matthew’s circumstances succinctly:

Happy early birthday Matthew! Jailed by racism and taking advantage of his disability.


Sumita wishes Matthew a happy birthday with a beautiful sketch:

Happy Birthday, Matthew!



#FreeMatthewRushin #GiftMatthewFreedom

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One Response

  1. “Sumayya Hasan puts together a collage of posts and videos that happened to wish Matthew Rushin a happy 22nd birthday and to ask Governor Northam to pardon him.”

    It is wonderful to view such widespread caring for Matthew amid continued calls for his release from jail.

    I too support such action and ask Governor Ralph Northam to take a day out of his busy schedule to put his hands, eyes and ears on this one. Please examine Matthew and his case!!!

    Carbon Bridge

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