Autistic runner assaulted by older man; accusations of racism

Autistic runner assaulted by older man; accusations of racism
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Chase Coleman is an non verbal, autistic 15-year-old African American boy who was attacked during a cross country race in Rochester, New York, by 57-year-old Martin MacDonald of Pittsford—-a man twice his size. Apparently Coleman got confused or lost during the race, and stopped in the road. His mother went looking for him when he didn’t show up with the other runners.

Witnesses said they saw the much larger and older MacDonald get out of his car to confront Coleman, shouting at him for a long time and then pushing him to the ground, before driving off. Fortunately the boy wasn’t seriously hurt, physically speaking, but following the incident he quit his beloved cross country team (he’s been running for years) and his non verbal status makes his degree of emotional injury difficult to assess.

Witnesses took down a partial license plate number and the police tracked MacDonald down. He told police that he feared Coleman might try to steal his wife’s pocket book. But oddly enough, his wife was sitting with him safely in their car. The very car he had to deliberately unlock and get out of before he could walk over to the kid in order to start the confrontation. He also told police that black teenagers had vandalized his car recently. So was this some sort of a revenge scenario? Did seeing Coleman, a young black teenager behaving in an unexpected, though most would find non threatening, way trigger a fear and rage reaction in the older man?

According to MacDonald, Coleman was in the road, and didn’t respond to his request to get out of the road. That’s when he got out of his car and eventually pushed the kid, shouting “Get out of here!” Sadly, Coleman’s non verbal status is clearly why he didn’t respond, rather than any attempt at delinquency. In fact, witnesses report that Coleman made no moves towards MacDonald, and actually just stood there quietly, with empty hands clearly visible. He probably didn’t even understand what the man wanted. And it’s very likely he was terrified.

But if this isn’t bad enough, the criminal justice system did nothing. MacDonald wasn’t arrested, and a judge denied the warrant for an arrest on a minor assault charge. The incident had been logged in the police report as “an argument,” even though the kid is non verbal, and the media reported that the investigation was closed. The criminal justice system failed to intervene, despite Coleman’s mother’s best efforts. But the story has gone viral, and since then the police have reported that they’ve been investigating continuously, stressing that the earlier media reports were incorrect. So it’s possible Coleman and his very concerned mother still might receive some small measure of justice.

But the internet and the media are on fire with criticisms and accusations of racism. For example, many are asking what would have happened if a large African American man had exited his car to confront and push an autistic, non verbal and non threatening white kid down onto the road? Would that man have been free to go, or more likely quickly arrested by police as an obvious threat? Have the police, or other parts of the criminal justice system involved with this case failed to protect and serve the community, and the Coleman family?

Why is their investigation taking so long? After all, they have witnesses, Chase Coleman’s autistic status is documented, and MacDonald actually admitted to leaving his car (escalating the situation) in order to push Coleman (further escalating the situation, to the level of violence) down onto the pavement. Why isn’t that enough for the system to take action? Are they looking for a catch, because with a black kid there’s always a catch? That’s what many fear, and if so, it’s disheartening and troubling.

Learn more about Chase Coleman’s ordeal (




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