[Image description: photo of a young boy with short black hair smiling next to an illustration of a blue flower. Text reads: "Remembering Alejandro Ripley May 21, 2020"]
TW: murder of an autistic child, filicide, racism
With grief and sorrow, we are sharing news of another murder of an autistic child, Alejandro Ripley. Alejandro was killed by his mother. Prior to confessing, she lied to the police, claiming that two Black men abducted her child and endangering the local Black community in the process.
There is never justification for murdering an autistic child. Our lives are worth living. There is always another choice than murder.
Let's remember Alejandro Ripley. He was 9 years old. He was described as "sweet and happy". He liked Captain America. He was a non-speaking communicator. His smile was shy and bright.
Let's call what this murder is: an ableist and racist hate crime. The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network reports that the rate of disabled people being killed by their parents or caregivers is at least one a week. Even one is too many. Even one is a tragedy, a life cut short from hate, not love.
It's the hate of disabled people by society--systemic ableism--that drives and attempts to justify these murders. It's the hate of Black people that allowed the mother to easily lead the police away on a chase for two imaginary Black men.
Battling ableism requires challenging the idea that disabled lives are not worth living. It requires disabled people leading the conversations and decisions about our lives, moving away from segregation and towards mutual support and interdependence. Disability justice mandates that those most impacted lead the change.
Alejandro Ripley's life was just starting, and it was worth living. He could have been happy. He could have been a leader. We'll never know. We call for justice for Alejandro Ripley. We call for disability justice for all of us, disabled, autistic, and grieving another in our community lost to violent ableism.