March 6, 2019
Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images
Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation is making quite the impact and becoming an advocate outside of the music scene. The philanthropic division of the entertainment company recently secured a legal victory after hiring high-profile trial lawyer Alex Spiro to lead a case for Jabari Talbot, who was arrested on Feb. 4 after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at a Lakeland, Florida school. Once Spiro became associated with the trial, it was immediately dismissed.
— Team Roc (@teamroc) March 1, 2019
“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” the legal counsel said in a statement. “He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment.”
The middle schooler decided not the stand because, to him, “the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people,” reports Bay News 9. After the making that statement, it led to a back and forth disagreement with his class’ substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez.
She asked the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy student why he didn’t leave the country if he didn’t like it, to which he responded: “They brought me here.” She went on to say: “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.” Following that encounter, Alvarez contacted the school’s resource officer, who then arrested him, and marked his behavior as disruptive and threatening, according to Complex.
The 11-year-old’s lawsuit got a lot of attention from various athletes and received an overwhelming amount of endorsement on social media. “When I heard about Jabari’s arrest, I immediately had my team reach out so I could offer my support for this unjust moment,” said Leonard Fournette, running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars. “Jabari is a bright young student and I applaud him for the strength he has shown during this difficult situation.”
11-year old Jabari Talbot exercised his freedom of speech by choosing not to participate in the national anthem, which led to his wrongful arrest ◾️ @leonardfournette immediately called to show support & invited him to a game next season ◾️ The case has since been dismissed 🙌 pic.twitter.com/H1vVnNOcYC
— Roc Nation Sports (@RocNationSports) March 6, 2019
Dhakira Talbot, the sixth-grader’s mother expressed her gratitude for all who have shown their support for her child: “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. 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.”
Team Roc even hired the same attorney to take on 21 Savage’s immigration case, so maybe they’re on to doing real work in the social justice realm. Remember when the rapper supported Meek Mill after his sentence, or his investment in an app to improve the criminal justice system?
TELL US: Do you think arresting the young boy was too much?