Dear States Attorney J. Charles Smith, III of Fredrick County Maryland
Thomas E Perez Assistant Attorney General – Civil Rights Division
What would you do if your child was treated like Robert Ethan Saylor was the day he visited Regal Theaters and was killed? I am enraged by the lack of action you and your office are taking to the investigation involving this horrific and tragic act. The act that took a grandson, a cousin, a son and a friend from his family. My heart breaks for his Mother who was so desperately trying to get to her son only to find out that he was dead. How does this happen to a person in a movie theater? When did it become so important to remove a person from a theater against their will?
Robert Ethan Saylor visited that movie theater on a regular basis. He came there with a care taker. How is it ok for the management of the theater to take control of a person who would have easily been redirected once familiar faces were surrounding him. Who decided that one frustrated and angry young man needed 3 sherifs to remove him from a theater? Why didn’t anyone step in to help him? Why did everyone remain bystanders?
How would you feel if you sent your child to a theater and later found out because of your childs misconduct he/she was killed? How would you react to such events? Would you brush of their life off like you are brushing off Roberts life? I can not understand for the life of me how you could decide that there is no grounds for charging these security guards with involuntary manslaughter? Your own medical examiner stated he died from asphyxia. Did you determine that he did that to himself? How can you sleep at night knowing these three men took excessive force to an individual who happened to have a disability and killed him while he was begging for his Mom? Is that ok in your book of law?
I am disappointed on so many levels. I am disappointed that our community of advocates for individuals with Down Syndrome are not standing for justice! We should be there and we should be represented. Since they are not there we will be. Please know the Moms and Dads are watching and we will keep pushing until justice is served. Robert is not a statistic to us, he mattered and he was loved.
I can not believe you would stand for the horrific injustice Robert Ethan Saylor was subject to. I am positive you would not have over looked this behavior if it were your own child or a child who had been born with less chromosomes. The actions your department have taken thus far are embarrassing. I am begging you with tears in my eyes to reconsider. I am begging you to stand up and say that Robert Ethan Saylor was more then his diagnosis, he was a young man. I am begging you to show our country that it is NOT ok to mistreat anyone, including individuals with disabilities. I want to know that when my daughter reaches the age that Robert did that I do not have to worry about someone using excessive force on her if she steps out of line because she did not understand what was appropriate at the time. I do not want to live in fear for her.
This is your job, it is your call and it is time to make things right. We are at a crossroad and it is important that you let Roberts family and friends know that he mattered. It is important that you set the bar high for all security staff as well as police departments. Mistreatment of anyone will not be tolerated. It is wrong and you can make it right.
I close this note with the same question I began with. What would you do if it were your child? What would you do?
I encourage everyone to write to Charlie Smith III at email@example.com or give him a call at 301-600-1523 and tell him how you feel. Let him know that you do not agree with how he has handled this case thus far and you encourage him to make things right. We need to unite in honor of Robert. We need to make sure this does not happen to another one of our children.
Thomas E. Perez
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
Telephone Device for the Deaf (TTY) (202) 514-0716