[an error occurred while processing this directive] George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight | Community Rallies Behind Autistic Boy In Ontario After Hateful Letter


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Community Rallies Behind Autistic Boy In Ontario After Hateful Letter
August 20, 2013
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Maxwell Begley is a 13-year-old with autism who lives in Oshawa, Ontario and often stays with his grandmother Brenda Millson in nearby Newcastle.

On Friday, Millson says she received an anonymous letter from someone claiming to live in the neighbourhood.

autistic-letter-side.jpgThe letter writer suggests that Millson should leave the neighbourhood or "euthanize" her grandson. The author also repeatedly uses the r-word when referring to Begley, and writes "he is a hindrance to everyone and will always be that way," among other, more offensive statements.

Begley's mother Karla, 44, is in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis. She says she was shaking and crying after reading the letter, and that police told her they have never seen a letter "this despicable."

"It made me sick to my stomach to think that somebody hated my son that much and they didn't even know him," Karla Begley told the Toronto Star. "But they just hated him because he was different. That's the only reason they had to hate him."

People in the community have rallied around the family, with more than 120 people waiting outside the home on Sunday night for more than an hour to show their support, the Canadian Press reports.

When Begley emerged from the house, people cheered for him.

"Max was high-fiving everyone. He didn't understand but knew it was for him," Millson said.

Begley's mother called the show of support "bittersweet," because she feels it's sad that it took an event like this to draw attention to a child with autism.

"It's just a reminder, you know, you've got to treat these kids like they need to be treated," she said. "They just want to belong."

Durham Police consulted with the Crown Attorney's Office in Ontario to determine whether any laws have been broken.

In a statement today, the Crown said the letter "falls below the threshold of a hate crime," CBC News reports.

The police say they will consider whether the letter violates other statutes of the Criminal Code.

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