"What she has done has absolutely blown my mind," said Mark Bell, a civil rights consultant in Atlanta who has seen other parents stand up for their kids, but "I have not seen one person with the tenacity that she has."
By tenacity, he means Alexander's campaign for attention to her son's case. The effort has spread to Facebook, Twitter and an online petition that has collected more than 1,500 signatures. Some supporters are parents of autistic children like Latson, who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in eighth grade, and others are African Americans drawn to the story of a black teenager who was arrested after an encounter with a police officer in a majority-white county.
On Alexander's Web site -- http:/
/-- strangers have left comments arguing, for example, that Latson is "a victim of SWB, sitting while black." avoiceforneli.com
Meanwhile, Gina Vokoun, who lives in Arizona, has posted Latson's story on national e-mail groups for parents of autistic children. She became an advocate for autistic young adults after her son, 18 and diagnosed with Asperger's, was arrested after a friend placed a fake bomb in his backpack. Police tend not to recognize symptoms of autism, she said, and confrontations leading to jail can reverse progress young people have made.
It is likely that the mention by a major news organization will greatly increase traffic to Alexander's site.