Jay-Z’s Roc Nation helps dismiss case against 11-year-old student arrested after refusing to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

March 07, 2019 at 10:00 am | News

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

March 07, 2019 at 10:00 am | News

Jay-Z | Jabari Talbot

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint may be widely known as a formidable entertainment company, however, another commendable impact the label is making that is worth mentioning is its social justice program.

Just recently, the label threw support behind 21 Savage after they hired a legal team to assist him with his immigration battle with the ICE. Arrested and detained for nine days, the Atlanta based rapper was eventually able to gain his freedom after he was released on bond.

Jay-Z’s unwavering support for Meek Mill while he was also in prison for probation violation cannot also be overestimated.

To add to their growing list of successful social justice endeavours, the philanthropic department of Roc Nation, Team Roc, helped dismiss a case against an 11-year-old sixth grader, Jabari Talbot who was arrested after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

The incident, which occurred last month at the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida, saw Talbot being kicked out of class by his substitute teacher Ana Alvarez, who took offense with his refusal to stand despite telling her his reason was because “the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to Black people,” according to Bay News 9.

Alvarez subsequently asked theTalbot why he would not leave the country if he felt it was too hostile to which he replied and said “They brought me here.”

“Well you can always go back because I came here from Cuba, and the day I feel I’m not welcome here any more I would find another place to live,” Alvarez countered.

She then had a school resource officer arrest Talbot claiming he was being disobedient, disruptive and threatening violence. He was taken to a juvenile detention center and charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.

The case got the attention of Team Roc, who stepped in to help the 11-year-old by hiring lawyer Alex Spiro to look into it.

“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” Spiro said in a statement according to Complex. “He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment.”

On March 1, Team Roc, in a Twitter post announced the case has been dismissed.

“The system tried to force Jabari Talbot into diversion. Jabari did not commit a crime. Guilty plea refused. Case dismissed. We applaud and support you Jabari,” they Tweeted.

Jabari’s mother, Dhakira Talbot in a statement obtained by Complex, thanked Roc Nation for their support.

“My son and I are grateful for all the athletes, entertainers, Roc Nation and community of supporters that have raised awareness about this injustice and showed their support—both publicly and privately,” she said. “Although Jabari’s case has been dismissed, I do want people to know this isn’t just about my son—this prejudice happens to African-American kids all across the country. The fight isn’t over, which is why I have a civil rights complaint pending with the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that no child ever has to experience this injustice again and we will appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

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