Podcast: I’m Still Autistic. I STILL Fear Cops: One Year after Linden Cameron

AutisticAF Out Loud Podcast, Episode 3 artwork: I'm Still Autistic. I STILL Fear Cops... One Year after Linden Cameron.
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Photo. "Remembering Linden," Low-resolution version of original digital illustration of autistic Linden Cameron, shot by police on mental health check, Utah, 9/4/2020. (c) 2021 John M. Knapp, Creative Commons Non-Commercial Usage. High-resolution wallpaper & poster files free to premium subscribers.
“Remembering Linden,” original digital illustration of autistic Linden Cameron, shot by police on mental health check, Utah, 9/4/2020.

NOTE: Some autistic & ADHD folks process reading better, some listening… some both at once. So I include a transcript, podcast, and “pretty” captioned video below. #InclusionMatters.


I think it’s time for a little controversy. To get a little loud…

Mebbe to go full autistic on yer ass.

If you’re autistic, love one, work with some… or just can’t figure out if you are one…

This episode… is gonna get ya.

Let’s talk about cops… autists… and tragic violence. Out. Loud.

Real talk. A little rougher than usual.

But I end on a hopeful note. There ARE actions you might want to take. And, maybe share… with someone you know… who cares.

Just a quick head’s up…

During this episode, I read the names of some 20 autistic victims of cop violence, altho I don’t mention underage kids. Each appeared in national news during the last 12 months. It’s just a small sample of hundreds of cases.

As I get this new podcast off the ground…

If you enjoyed this episode…

Please share it on social media? Or better yet, send it to a friend.

Article continues below…

Podcast (26:37)

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Videocast (captions, 26:37)

Captioned to aid audio processing.


I’m Still Autistic. I STILL Fear Cops: One Year After Linden

  • Preston Wolf, 17, thrown down & punched in the face by Vacaville, CA police. They wanted to question him about a dispute with an uninjured friend.
  • Eyad al-Halaq, 31, a Palestinian shot & killed by Israeli police before they questioned or ID’d him.

It was just a year ago… I picked up my phone for the morning news…

And read about Linden Cameron (link). A 13-year-old autistic boy from Utah. His mom called 911 for help with his meltdown…

When the cops arrived…? They shot him 11 times. In the back.

You may remember. It made national news. In between media fascination with Greta Thunberg… and the crush they now have on Elon Musk.

Celebrity autists.

That’s the picture the public sees… now… of autism.

But a kid… shot for having a meltdown?

By noon, my outrage had me hitting my keyboard for a blog I called, “I’m Autistic. I Fear Cops…”

Right after… I hit Amazon for a personalized medical alert bracelet. To warn first responders, “Hey, I’m autistic here.” In my hope…

Cops won’t shoot ME.

Cuz with a bracelet you can easily wave your wrist at a first responder for instant attention…

Without fumbling in your pocket… as cops fear you are reaching for a gun.

Without even speaking. Or making eye contact.

  • Eric Parsa, 16, died after Jefferson Parish, LA deputies sat on his back for 9 minutes… because his parent’s requested help… managing his meltdown at a shopping mall.

Overreaction? Sound like I went a little crazy…?

Think about it…

From where I sit… Every cop in AMERICA is trained to look upon me with suspicion… as a potential danger to the public… and treat me accordingly.

Look, I’m an #ActuallyAutistic male, approaching 70…

Let’s say, I get stopped by a cop.

  • I experience Selective Mutism. I may have trouble answering questions… or simply talking… under stress.
  • I get PTSD Panic Attacks. My behavior can get pretty weird, pretty fast… something I can’t control. Especially when I’m scared.
  • I tend to have a Loud Voice at the best of times. Pressure me? I’m shouting before I realize it.
  • Now… my Unusual Gait? And balance problems? I’ve been accused usually falsely, I might add… of being drunk or high on my best days.
  • I dress in, shall we say, an Unusual Wardrobe. Call it the cosplay of an aging musician… black clothes, fedora, mohawk…
  • Finally, for shits, giggles, & bonus points with Officer Friendly…
  • I Avoid Eye Contact. Cuz, ya know, I fear the sensory overload it causes. So my choice is to either look shifty… or let myself spin into a meltdown.

Cops don’t dig that shit. Any of that shit.

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I’ve realized my natural, everyday behavior… just walking the sidewalks of a southern Indiana town… makes me look like…

A poster child for criminal activity… non-compliance… and resisting arrest.

  • Unnamed victim, 7, handcuffed, pinned facedown by a school police officer in Statesville, NC. He began spitting during a meltdown… in his “special needs” school.
  • Isaias Cervantes, 25, killed by LA County deputies within 83 seconds, after his mother called 911 for assistance with a mental health crisis.

And after reading about Linden opened my eyes, I saw problems for autists everywhere.

I run a Facebook group, “Missing: While Autistic.” I read news reports about dangerous… even tragic… run-ins between “trained” cops & autistic folks…


So I didn’t stop at buying a bracelet.

I spent a year researching… obsessively… violent police and autist interactions. Searching for suggested reforms, say … safety registries for disabled folks. Which led me to start a second Facebook group, “Trigger Warning: Autism & the Police.”

And I didn’t stop there…

Over the last year, I’ve come to fear for my personal safety in ALL public places where I live in South Central Indiana…

As American culture becomes rapidly more polarized, extreme, violent…

I’ve been questioned by cops… for riding a bicycle in my neighborhood. I was physically attacked in Dollar Tree… over my Covid mask. Another cop stopped me. When I asked why, he sagely informed me, “People with strange haircuts are sometimes up to no good.” Teens stalked, mocked & threatened me in Walmart… again a mask thing. A conservative church lady verbally abused me in a store for my speech & mildly androgynous dress. Now, that’s a Bible-Belt thing.

So I bought pepper spray. And now carry a stout walking stick… which I train with as a short quarterstaff for personal defense. (Nobody messed with Friar Tuck in Robin Hood’s day.)

  • Ricardo Muñoz, 27, killed by a Lancaster, PA police officer. Ricardo did carry a knife during a mental health crisis. But bodycam footage reveals no attempts at de-escalation. The officer involved was not injured. Ricardo remained at least 6 feet distant at all times. And the cop shot him… without warning.

My fears aren’t solely a product of my fevered, paranoiac imagination.

One study(link) estimates 1 in 5 autistic teens will be questioned by police… before 21. And disabled folks, including autistics? Five times more likely to be jailed than those without disabilities.

Here’s a quote. Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, New Hyde Park. BTW, some may notice he uses person-first language.

“A simple traffic stop can have tragic consequences for an individual with autism spectrum disorder. If a police officer does not recognize that the driver has autism, then they may misinterpret the failure to make eye contact, answer questions appropriately, or follow simple commands.

The police officer may… feel defied or threatened — which could then lead to escalation… that could jeopardize the safety of that individual with ASD.” (Medical Xpress, “For people with autism, encounters with police can turn dangerous,” May 3, 2019.)

At some point last year, I realized articulate autistics, like me… are particularly at risk. Because altho we may have meltdowns and other autistic traits that disturb law enforcement…

We. Don’t. Look. Autistic.

Doctors may diagnose us, “High-functioning.” All that means is we test somewhere normal to above on an IQ test.

But… for many of us, the truth is closer to….

We do not function. At all. In demanding social situations. Such as…

Fearing jail or death. Or just being accused of breaking a rule…

And we end up arrested. Jailed.

Ya know. Dead…

  • Unnamed victim, 27, beaten by 2 off-duty Philadelphia police during questioning about a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Unnamed victim, 14, punched and dragged by Knoxville, TN police during a meltdown at school.

It’s a year since Linden.

And I’ve done everything I can think of…

But… where am I at today…?

I’m still autistic. I still fear every police officer and cop car I see.

And it’s 21st Century America.

I see them everywhere.

Unless things change, we’re ALL screwed.

And, I’m pretty sure, that goes for every autist you may know… or care for.

I don’t believe that any form of self-policing… including “autism awareness training”… any training of cops will EVER work. Whether regarding matters of race, gender…

Or disability. Like autism.

I believe it’s ridiculous to expect any human…

rigorously trained…

to use domination, intimidation,

threats & actual violence…

to control human behavior…

and who is further indoctrinated to do so with a split-second decision…


It’s ridiculous to turn around and expect them to provide the nurturing support needed for a human services call.

Or… for them to expect us… to trust them. With our lives.

  • Liam Long, 19, struck by a Lexington, KY police car, reportedly on purpose. He ran, panicked, during a welfare check.
  • Kobe Dimock-Heisler, 21, shot by Brooklyn Center, MN police responding to a mental health crisis… after the crisis had passed.

I am aware of NO independent research that indicates either police training… OR, the new fad, interfacing highly trained & paid staff between autists & police…

Actually reduces cop violence.

And no stats whatsoever show a decline in US cop violence… Anywhere.

The number of US citizens killed by cops every year… the largest by far in the industrialized world… has not significantly changed since it first hit the airwaves when Michael Brown died in 2015.

All these training programs, disability registries, ombudspeople, commissions, tracking devices, Amber Alerts…

Simply enlarge police departments’ staffing, military equipment, budgets, and power.

Ultimately, they lead to unjustifiable police violence…

  • Unnamed victim, 27, beaten by two off-duty Philadelphia police officers when they mistakenly believed he broke into a car. The autist had no criminal record. The police had no evidence.
  • Unnamed victim, 11, handcuffed, left alone for two hours. He was denied medical attention… even when he banged his head bloody in frustration. He had poked a schoolmate with a pencil. No injury was reported.

Last year? Cops broke into a Bellevue, WA couple’s home…

in the middle of the night…

because a neighbor had phoned in a welfare check on their adult autistic son…

who lives with them.

The cops smashed the door down. Even as the parents shouted explanations & protests… and despite alerts from that dispatcher to these cops that the situation had been resolved hours before…

They crashed thru the parents who were physically blocking them at the bedroom door…

then proceeded to handcuff, injure, and bodily remove the pajama-clad, adult autist… unarmed, posing no threat to anyone…

without any warrant or form of authorization…

Simply claiming that they had the authority to do so because they were responding to a “human services emergency.”

Which they were in fact creating.

If unconstitutional, police-state tactics & privileges like that don’t scare you… autistic or not…?

Check your pulse?

Police brutality is out of control in America. The Prison Policy Initiative reports 1100 people are killed by American law enforcement. Every year. Year after year.

Let’s put a face on that.

Take the cops near Jamesville, New York… a small town near Syracuse… who shot a teenaged autist dead…

For waving his toy air gun at them… A fatal mistake. One that cops have made before. And will make again…

So all the training? All the education? All the money?

Subsidizing murder.

Particularly of autists. Whether they are verbal, nonverbal, in control, out of control, too loud, too soft, don’t make eye contact…

Or are too weird. Or just… ya know, different.

  • Brandon Davis, 32, pinned to a fence by one Cincinnati police officer’s knee, while a second tased him 7 times. For walking in a city park after dark. Brandon maintains he was not in the park and was attacked for “walking while Black.” In the wrong neighborhood.


I’m an #AutisticElder.

I remember wave after wave of police reform fads. Starting with the Watts & Chicago riots back in the 60s.

Sensitivity training. Neighborhood outreach. Some really nifty posters. Even some oversight by the occasional civilian review board…

Yet, 6 DECADES later police violence is still, Still, STILL a burning issue… George Floyd, Breonna Taylor…

Nearly two hundred years of American history demonstrate police cannot be trusted to interact with People of Color… dating back to slave patrols of Black folk.. and lynching parties…

And then… think of the news reporting police officers participated in the Trump Insurrection… and the proposed legislation monitoring police for ties to White Supremacist militias.

If education and training worked? Would’ve worked by now.

Anything less than a fundamental change to policing itself?

Doomed to failure.

And another thing: Accept autism. Don’t register it.

You know those autism registries… or autism “passports”?

Little slips of paper that are supposed to help keep cops from abusing… or killing… autists…?

While I understand… and applaud… the impulse to give autistic folk greater safety in their interactions with police…

Any form of registration with the police… or carrying “identity papers” meant to save us from death… is creepy, IMHO…

Especially considering that an autistic person quite likely will not have the presence of mind to fumble for papers…

during a life-threatening encounter with armed police…

AND… an autistic meltdown.

Besides, calling it a “passport”… as if we were somehow fun-seeking touristy aliens… in the communities that we actually live in…

seems beyond insulting.

Tbh, it seems more like an attempt to reduce the guilt… of non-autistic folks… than any meaningful attempt to protect autists from cops.

We live here.

If you don’t kill us…

A final thought on “registries.”

In America, information gathered by the government… most especially the police or Justice Department… always ends up being used for punitive purposes… eventually.

We don’t need to register people with disabilities.

Remember how that went for disabled folks, including autistics… in Nazi Germany?

  • Unnamed victim, 14, suffered a fractured wrist when a Topeka, KS police officer knelt on his neck and handcuffed him. He was riding his bike accompanied by his unleashed dog. A city code violation.
  • JT, 10, pulled from a car by two Worcester, MA police responding to his mother’s 911 mental health call. Informed he was autistic, officers kneeled on his neck and legs and handcuffed him… fracturing his arm. For throwing a bag of chips.

What CAN We Do?

Well…, I believe the solution is a basket of things:

  1. Support #AutismAcceptance throughout every social structure available to us. \ Ultimately, the problem is ignorance and #WeirdPhobia. \ We gotta stomp those out.
  2. Use trained social workers for ALL incident calls that do NOT involve a threat to life. \ There is no.. none whatsoever… NO reason for a person performing a welfare check, or other purely social services, to be packing any form of lethal weapon. \ I know. I’ve been a Child Protective Services worker. A VERY dangerous, unarmed position. \ Trust me. If you are trained properly and SUSPECT you are in danger, you do not enter any closed structure. You do NOT approach any vehicle, individual, or group that *appears out of the ordinary. \ You call for backup. * It. Is. That. Freaking. Easy. \ Honestly, there are fatalities among CPS workers. But nothing approaching 1000+ cop-shooting deaths of American civilians.
  3. Reduce the ARMED police force to exactly, precisely the level required to handle ONLY violent threats to life…\ Plus ONLY sufficient BACKUP force to handle a reasonable-sized crowd… \ Determined by the population of the city, town, village, county, or state. \ Not ONE cop more. \ Not ONE freaking *tank. * THERE IS NO NEED FOR A STANDING ARMY IN ANY AMERICA I WANT TO LIVE IN… \ Or believe I can survive in.
  4. #AllDisabilitiesMatter. All my points apply across the entire human population… \ By which I do not mean to imply some disabilities are more at risk than others or not… particularly communication-related ones such as autism.\

We don’t need pity. We don’t need ID patches.

We need cops to stop shooting at us. Which doesn’t require expensive cop training.

It just requires answering human services calls with human services professionals. Who don’t pack guns?

We autists aren’t the problem.

*Killer cops are.*

  • Quentin Ramsey, 21, handcuffed, injured & bodily removed from his home by Seattle-area police, on a “welfare” check.
  • And finally… Linden Cameron, 13, shot by Utah police when his mother called 911 for help with his mental health crisis.

Love, Politics & Faking Normal: 3 New Autistic Myths s03e01 #AutisticAF Out Loud

  1. Love, Politics & Faking Normal: 3 New Autistic Myths s03e01
  2. #AutisticRave: Group Processing Disorder. It's a Thing.
  3. Imaginary Friends? This Autistic Kid's Bestie… Dissociation, Pt 1
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