A West Virginia county earned nationwide ridicule in April when local school officials demanded police arrest a 14-year-old boy for refusing to remove a t-shirt supporting the Second Amendment.
Logan County is back in the news, but now ridicule has turned to rage with revelations that the county prosecuting attorney, instead of dismissing the “case,” has formally charged the middle-schooler with “obstructing an officer.”
According to CBS affiliate WTRF, Jared Marcum faces a $500 fine and a maximum of one year in prison if convicted of his “crimes.”
Marcum’s father, Allen Lardieri, told the Associated Press that he expected the “case” to be dropped. Since it wasn’t, he says, his son will fight the school district and prosecuting attorney in a battle that should continue to humiliate Logan County residents.
“I don’t think it should have ever gotten this far. Every aspect of this is just totally wrong,” Lardieri said. “It just seems like nobody wants to admit they’re wrong.”
Officials at Lincoln Middle School say Marcum, who has since completed eighth grade, was suspended on April 18 for one day after refusing a teacher’s demand to remove a shirt emblazoned with a hunting rifle and the statement, “Protect your right.”
Marcum told local TV station WOWK-TV that the teacher said, “‘Are you supposed to wear that in school?’ I said, ‘I don’t see why I shouldn’t.'”
After he refused to take off the shirt, Marcum was sent to principal Ernestine Sutherland and explained that he was exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. Instead of applauding a student for understanding how the Bill of Rights and Constitution are supposed to work, Sutherland called police.
When Logan Police Officer James Adkins arrived, he arrested Marcum for “disturbing the education process” and “obstruction of a police officer” because the boy did not stop talking.
When Marcum showed up at school the day after serving his suspension wearing the same exact shirt — accompanied by dozens of students wearing similar pro-Second Amendment shirts — school administrators did nothing.
In the two months between Marcum’s April 18 arrest and June 14 court appearance, the Logan County School Board met at least twice. Instead of demanding Sutherland and District Superintendent Wilma Zigmond explain themselves and end the nonsense, they agreed to conduct an “independent investigation.”
Yet, it was still a surprise that the “case” against the teenager wasn’t dismissed when it came before Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Eric H. O’Briant on June 14. Instead, prosecuting attorney Michael White demanded the “case” proceed and Marcum be formally charged with “obstructing an officer,” and O’Briant agreed.
Obviously, the people of Logan County have a lot of work to do in voting out local elected officials who have no respect for their constituency’s rights.
Unfortunately, prosecuting attorney Michael White’s boss, Logan County Prosecuting Attorney John W. Bennett, and O’Briant aren’t up for re-election until 2016.
Fortunately, three of five members of the Logan County School Board — Kenny Robertson, Phillip Baker, Tim Hall — are running for re-election in November. Only one, Hall, faces a challenger.
That needs to change.
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— The 14-year-old kid arrested over his pro-NRA shirt now faces a year in jail