Autistic Black Teen Attacked By Man Who Thought He Was A 'Thief'

by
Carol Nisar
Police in central New York are facing pressure to renew a case against a racist, white middle-aged man who showed aggression towards a black, disabled teen.

Photo: Facebook, Jennifer Lewke

Update:

After much protest against the city of Rochester for not arresting Martin MacDonald after he assaulted Chase Coleman, a reverse decision has been made.

On Tuesday, an arrest warrant for MacDonald was signed for second degree harassment. MacDonald shoved Coleman, a 15-year-old cross country runner, during a race several weeks ago. 

MacDonald's bail is set at $500 cash or $1,000 bond. 

Coleman is non-verbal, and, according to his mother, is traumatized from the aggressive incident. The teen turned in his track uniform and quit his high school's track team after the attack. 


Police in Rochester, New York are allegedly revisiting a case in which an African-American high school student was assaulted by a white male during a track meet on Oct. 14, yet no charges were doled out. Along with the teen’s parents, the public is calling upon city prosecutors to reassess their decision and arrest the man who attacked the student, according to Syracuse.com.

Chase Coleman, a 15-year-old teen from Syracuse who has a form of nonverbal autism, has quit Corcoran High School’s long-distance track team in the wake of being physically assaulted by a stranger during a 5k race.

In what has sparked public outrage, there has been no arrest for Martin MacDonald, the 57-year-old man who attacked him.

According to Coleman’s family, MacDonald should be charged for second-degree harassment, yet Rochester City Court Judge Caroline Morrison denied the warrant for MacDonald’s arrest on Oct. 21. If MacDonald is found guilty, he could face up to 15 days in jail.

According to the police report, MacDonald was acting in “self-defense,” a notion based on fear. The report says, “He thought Chase was going to mug his wife and take her purse.” MacDonald was in his car near the reservoir in Cobb’s Hill Park when he saw Coleman — who was in his track uniform with a number pinned to it — and subsequently got out of his vehicle just to push the teen away.

Photo: Facebook, Jennifer Lewke

His mother, Clarise Coleman, told The Washington Post, “Chase doesn’t even know how to defend himself… He can barely ride a bike. [Chase] was in a uniform. He had a number pinned to him. How did you think that he was out trolling to steal your car? … You can’t tell me that it wasn’t because my son was black. There were Asian kids, there were Caucasian kids. But you picked the black kid to say, ‘That crossed my mind?'"

At least two people witnessed the racially-motivated attack, which occurred after Coleman lost his way during the 5k race. One witness reportedly said that MacDonald pushed Coleman “at least ten feet and flat on his butt.”

Another passerby, Kris Van Metter, said that he saw MacDonald shove Coleman and yell “Get out of here” to him. He continued, “The kid didn’t seem to be doing anything but standing there, obviously had nothing in his hands, and weighed all of 130 pounds. This guy [MacDonald] was easily twice that.”

In a letter to Monroe Country’s district attorney’s office, Susan Boyle, a Syracuse city official, stated that the assault was “a racist, aggressive, unprovoked attack on a disabled African-American minor with absolutely no consequences.”

For Coleman’s family to continue to push for legal charges must be exhausting, as if they are talking to a wall. Moreover, the fact that Coleman turned in his track uniform is truly upsetting, because MacDonald has taken away the teen’s sense of security. 

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Banner photo credit: Facebook, Jennifer Lewke

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