Preface: This is a guest post by Gen Eric. Both he and I are pretty yucked out by the infantilizing language that Melissa's mother used to describe her in the article, most notably the assumption that she has but a basic understanding of right and wrong and that's why this is upsetting--not that the whole situation is completely bassackwards and upsetting no matter who you are. It's gross. Don't talk about your kid that way.
This is an important issue, however. This should not have happened. This should not still be happening, and the way it is being handled is very poor indeed.
TW for police, wrongful confinement, infantilizing parents, and ableism
An Autistic teenage girl in England was [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2269228/Autistic-girl-spent-hours-cell--police-wrongly-thought-drunk.html jailed for ten hours on a false charge (Trigger Warning for confinement, violence, mistreatment of a minor, discussion of suicide, and some ableism)]. The police knew the charge was false, and they kept her anyway. Crown Prosecution Service knew the charge was false, but they took eight months before deciding not to put her on trial. She had been the victim of an actual crime, but the government declined to prosecute her probable assailant. “Lack of evidence” they call it, which sure as hell didn't stop them when the target was a disabled teenager.
Melissa Jones and her non-disabled friend were severely beaten by an angry drunk. They were beaten when they tried to stop the drunk woman from attacking a store clerk. When found, she was “crying and hysterical,” which makes her similar to any other teenager who had been minding their own business and suddenly was “stamped on and suffered severe bruising.” Hell, I'm thirty and I'd be pretty hysterical if that happened to me. The police decided she was drunk and, despite her mother's objection, arrested her. A police doctor confirmed that she hadn't had a drop of alcohol, but they decided to hold her anyway. After all, if we let people go just because the evidence shows they're innocent, we'd have anarchy.
There is no excuse, zero, nada, zilch, jack fucking shit (and Jack just left town). A police doctor confirmed Melissa Jones was not drunk, and even if one hadn't, breathalyzers are sort of a thing. A competent police officer who cares one bit about justice would have let her go and apologize. Either the cops who arrested her, every last one, are deeply incompetent, or not a single one of them cares a bit about justice. A competent prosecutor, who cares one bit about justice, would drop all charges in as much time as it takes to read the report. The prosecutor or prosecutors involved either are incompetent or don't care one bit about justice. They're all bullies, every last one.
Many of us know full well what this is like, maybe not to the level that she's experienced, but we've been to the neighborhood. We're convenient targets for anyone who wants to vent their rage or stroke their ego. Those who were put in positions of authority find it inconvenient to actually do anything about this, so they default to blaming us. Somehow, we're always at fault for anything done to us (Just World fallacy). I spent much of seventh grade on suspension for my attempts to defend myself from assaults that I decline to describe here.
“[Melissa] has tried to commit suicide and is having weekly counseling,” says her mother, “she hardly ever goes out anymore.” This is flat-out un-fucking-acceptable. A bunch of overgrown bullies with fancy titles destroy an innocent girl's life, and you know none of them will suffer any consequences. They never, ever do.
Melissa, if you're reading this, I want you to remember one thing: you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, you're a hero. You confronted a woman who was about to assault someone else, and then you showed a level of integrity few adults are capable of when you refused to accept the ₤60 fine they offered you. You have every reason to be proud of yourself, and your Autistic community is proud of you, and furious on your behalf. I don't know much about British law, but I hope to the Lords of frakking Kobol that there's a way for you to fight back against what's been done to you. If a collection is ever taken for the cost of suing all involved, I'd be proud to contribute.