Free Banana Man

On Friday, September 16, 2011, Colonial Forge High School student Brian Thompson was "handcuffed and placed in a police car for running down the sidelines during halftime at a football game" in a banana suit.  He hurt absolutely no one and it was the sort of innocent prank that many of us have experienced as a child.

As a friend of mine put it, "This talented and high-spirited child with autism needs to be guided, directed and celebrated - not punished. He united the school and made people laugh. The kids have the right idea in this case. The adults are the ones going overboard with punishment for [a] mild stunt that harmed no one."

Being handcuffed and thrown in the back of a squad car, getting suspended for 10-days and facing possible expulsion is beyond reason. The prank doesn’t fit the punishment.

Sign this position to send a message to Colonial Forge Principal Karen Spillman and the Stafford County School Board: "Free Banana Man!" Brian’s record should be expunged and he should be allowed to return to school immediately!

Let’s also send a message to Stafford County Sheriff Charlie Jett that he should be focused on catching the real criminals in Stafford County and not innocent bananas - after all, we’ve only experienced a 66% increase in violent crime since 2005! His department could also use some additional training on how to deal with autistic children or folks who suffer from mental illness, since this isn’t an isolated incident.

Did you also know that the training that deputies go through in Stafford is done through the Rappahannock Criminal Justice Academy, which is also known as a minimum standards program? The police departments just to our north receive much more thorough training before being released to the street for duty. Our deputies need to be trained on how to deal with autistic children and folks suffering from mental illness.
On Friday, September 16, 2011, Colonial Forge High School student Brian Thompson was "handcuffed and placed in a police car for running down the sidelines during halftime at a football game” in a banana suit.  He hurt absolutely no one and it was the sort of innocent prank that many of us have experienced as a child.

As a friend of mine put it, “This talented and high-spirited child with autism needs to be guided, directed and celebrated – not punished. He united the school and made people laugh. The kids have the right idea in this case. The adults are the ones going overboard with punishment for [a] mild stunt that harmed no one.”

Being handcuffed and thrown in the back of a squad car, getting suspended for 10-days and facing possible expulsion is beyond reason. The prank doesn’t fit the punishment.
Brian should be allowed to return to school immediately and his record expunged. 

We also believe that Stafford County's Sheriff's Office should immediately provide expanded training on how to deal individuals suffering from autism and mental illness. We also strongly urge our Sheriff to focus on catching the real criminals in our county. We've experienced a 66% rise in violent crime since 2005, according to the Virginia State Police. This is unacceptable.

We the undersigned thank you for your consideration.
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