Friday, March 29, 2013

An Open Letter to Everyone with a public contact page

Federal Bureau of Investigations
Attn: Robert Mueller, Director
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535

Federal Bureau of Investigations
Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20530

FBI Field Office – Baltimore
Special Agent in Charge, Stephen E. Vogt
2600 Lord Baltimore Drive
Baltimore, MD 21244
(410) 265-8080 phone.


U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Main
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 514-4609; (202) 353-1555
(TTY) : (202) 514-0716
Fax:  202 307-1379

ACLU of Maryland
Executive Director: Susan Goering
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 350
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
Phone: (410) 889-8555; (240) 274-5295
Requests for assistance are accepted on their Civil Rights Complaint Line. The line is in operation on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1:00 and 3:00 pm: (443) 524-2558.

ACLU – National office
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York NY 10004

Maryland State Police
Criminal Investigation Bureau
1201 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, MD 21208-3899


Office of the Attorney General, MD
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler
200 St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 576-6300
(888) 743-0023 toll-free in Maryland
TDD: (410) 576-6372

J. Charles Smith, III
MD State's Attorney, for Frederick County Maryland
State's Attorney's Office
100 W Patrick Street
Frederick, MD  21701
(301) 600-1523   (voice)
(301) 600-2195    (fax)

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers
203 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515
phone: 202-225-2006
fax: 202-225-3392


Ladies & Gentlemen:

I’m writing you today to request the DOJ and FBI open an independent inquiry into the death of Mr. Robert Saylor.  

Mr. Saylor had Down syndrome.  He died when he tried to stay for a second showing of a movie.  I do not dismiss the fact that he should have left the theater or bought another ticket.  But he had a caretaker nearby and his mother was on her way to the theater to intervene.  Nonetheless, instead of waiting or involving the family, 3 off duty police officers wrestled him to the floor where he died, just after calling out for his mother. The medical examiner classified his death as a homicide but wrote “This individual was already compromised by his Down’s Syndrome” [sic].  There were 17 witnesses in the theater but none of them testified.  The grand jury of Frederick County, after hearing only from the three officers and the ME, unsurprisingly failed to pursue charges. 

Why?  He died for the price of a movie ticket.  I believe he died because of a continuing bias against those with disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities.  The autopsy report essentially said he died because of his genetic makeup.  He died because he was different and the officers treated that difference as less worthy of a reasoned, proportionate response.  Less worthy of life and liberty.  

Following a meeting with several national Down syndrome organizations, the DOJ representative is quoted as saying, “We’re trying to assess the situation and see how much community tension there is.” 

The Down syndrome community is not large.  The special needs community in general is too busy dealing with schools and therapies and doctors to march en masse to your office door.  There will be no rioting in the streets.  Mr. Saylor is not an adorable 6 year old girl in ribbons and pigtails so there will be no international press events.  But I ask you – if your child had been wrestled to the ground, handcuffed, and died over the price of a movie ticket, what would you do?  Are these the men you want patrolling your streets?  Do you trust these men to interview your sons?  If Robert Saylor were black or Hispanic or Sikh would the case merit a second look?  Are these officers any less worthy of punishment because Mr. Saylor had a relatively rare disability?  Since when do our civil liberties depend on public outcry?  

I believe the officers in question acted with criminal disregard for the man’s safety, used unreasonable and excessive force, and violated Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 and Title 18, U.S.C., Section 249.  I believe their actions need to be investigated by an independent agency, one less inclined to protect its own than Frederick County.  I believe the laws and rights and protections afforded this nation’s people extend to every citizen, and those designed to protect the most vulnerable among us must be enforced, independent of “public outcry,” lest we abandon the rule of law and become a nation of bullies and monsters.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Permission to copy, amend, elaborate on, etc. is hereby granted provided you print or email to the addresses listed. :)

And if you haven't the faintest idea what I'm talking about, additional information on the Robert Saylor story can be found at the NY Times (linked) and the Washington Post. Or Google. There are several petitions at but the biggest - and the one signed by Robert Saylor's grandfather - is here.


  1. Well said. I'm a little ashamed to say I didn't even know about this til today, hearing about it on a few blogs and then checking out the details of the story. Really sad situation, to say the least. And so far, you've got the most well composed response I've seen. (which does not surprise me.)

  2. Thank you. I'll copy and paste and send it on.

  3. Right on, krlr. I'm writing a piece for our local paper about it.

  4. Thank you for writing this for us to copy, elaborate on and share.
    I have a hard time being articulate when I'm upset about an issue, so this is greatly appreciated! :)

  5. Where was this young mans human rights .Aren't we wonderful that we allow such atrocities to go unpunished & the victim vilified because he has a disability .If any of you know a Downs Syndrome person ,you will know how gentle ,kind & loving they are & all families who have been blessed with a Downs Syndrome child will tell you this .This young man needs justice & we should see to it that he has it .