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W.V. Student Jared Marcum Faces Jail Time over NRA T-Shirt (UPDATED)

by G&A Online Editors   |  June 21st, 2013 44

Back in April, we reported on the story of 14-year-old Jared Marcum, a West Virginia eighth-grader who had been suspended for wearing an NRA t-shirt to school.

As if the initial story wasn’t bizarre enough, Marcum is now faced with a fine up to $500 and up to a year in jail after being formally charged with obstructing an officer June 17, according to WOWK-TV in Charleston, W.V.

Check out the video from WOWK-TV.

On April 18, Marcum went to school wearing a shirt emblazoned with the NRA logo, along with a picture of an camo-finished AR and the phrase, “Protect Your Right.”

According to the Logan County School District’s dress code, students are forbidden from wearing anything that displays profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. Garments that glorify alcohol, tobacco or drugs are also banned. Hunting rifles apparently fell somewhere in one of those categories, so a teacher told Marcum in the cafeteria to remove the shirt—and in doing so, raised his voice and caused a scene, according to Marcum. When Marcum refused, saying the shirt did not explicitly violate the school’s dress code, he was cuffed by Logan County (W.V.) Police, who charged him with disrupting the educational process and obstructing an officer.

“When the police came, I was still talking and telling them that this was wrong, that they cannot do this, it’s not against any school policy,” Marcum told The Associated Press. “The officer, he told me to sit down and be quiet. I said, ‘No, I’m exercising my right to free speech.’ I said it calmly.”

After serving a one-day suspension, Marcum returned to school wearing the same exact shirt—and he wasn’t alone, as about 100 other students also wore shirts with similar pro-Second Amendment phrases, none of whom faced disciplinary actions. Initially, Marcum and his lawyer, Ben White, thought the case would end there with charges being dropped, but that was not the case, as prosecuting attorney Michael White decided to move forward with the charges.

In court documents obtained by WOWK-TV, the arresting officer from the Logan County Police Department, James Adkins, claimed Marcum would not stop talking, which somehow hindered Adkins’ ability to do his job. However, Ben White said Adkins’ petition did not mention any threats or violent actions by Marcum.

“In my view of the facts, Jared didn’t do anything wrong,” he told reporters. “I think officer Adkins could have done something differently.”

Prosecuting attorney Michael White refused to answer questions on the case, as did the Logan County Police Department.

Now in the middle of a completely absurd prosecution, Marcum is getting some help from gun owners across the nation. The Gun Owners Foundation recently threw their support behind Marcum, offering to help pro bono.

“Usually, Gun Owners Foundation supports individuals appealing convictions on firearms charges that involve constitutional issues,” the foundation said in a press release.” But we think that Jared’s case warrants special attention, as it involves both First and Second Amendment freedoms.

“If we are not allowed to make pro-Second Amendment statements—all because somebody is offended—then we can count the days to when we’ll lose the freedoms enshrined in both Amendments.”

UPDATE (6/27): As if this story couldn’t get any goofier, prosecutors called for an emergency gag order hearing against Marcum and his father, Allen Lardieri, from speaking with the press about the case.

“It was for Jared’s better interest, is what I was told, which seems to be a bit odd to me,” Lardieri told WOWK-TV. “These are the same individuals that are trying to prosecute him, so as far as them knowing what is in his better interest, I have a lot of questions about that.”

Charlo Greene, the WOWK-TV reporter who originally broke the story and has been diligently covering it since, tried to file a petition against the gag order on behalf of the free press. When she and her camera crew showed up at the Logan County Courthouse, however, they were met with a hostile bailiff shouting at Greene and her associates, threatening to arrest them on obstruction charges—freedom of the press, indeed—before throwing them out.

Ultimately, prosecutors withdrew their motion for a gag order on the condition that they too be allowed to speak with the press—which so far, they have refused to do, treating Greene with more unwarranted hostility.

This story just gets weirder and weirder. As if bullying a 14-year-old kid wasn’t enough, Logan County officials apparently have a major issue with reporters just trying to tell the whole story—even when that reporter is trying to get prosecutors’ side of the story too.

We hope common sense eventually prevails in Logan County, W.V., but at the rate things are going, we’re not holding our breaths.

  • John Hannon III

    I tend to side with cops as my default setting until something makes me think otherwise. That being said, I know that if a cop comes for something he feels is a waste of his time and it’s made harder than it needs to be, they can often dig for a reason to ruin your day in return. I wasn’t there, and I can absolutely believe this young man talked his way into an arrest but I don’t buy that this is the best solution to this.

    • hipshotpercusion

      Either you are an idiot, or a COP shill. The Pig clearly violated this young mans creator given rights because he is ignorant and cares not about anybodies rights. I think a jury will ultimately smack him and the city down.

    • Tim-LV

      I agree. Somehow I believe Paul Harvey would have a ‘Rest Of The Story’ for this.

    • NeoPrudentist

      I don’t disagree with you that the kid was likely protesting loudly through the entire process. He’s fourteen, and having the wherewithal to adamantly disagree with an authority figure when he’s in the right and is being oppressed, but still remain respectful is probably beyond his social abilities yet. Most adults can’t get this right either.

      However, the kid wasn’t violating policy, and he therefore had no business being arrested. The courts and legislatures have said time and again that if the police are in the wrong and have no legal basis for an arrest, any citizen’s resistance to said unlawful arrest is legally acceptable. It’s only recently in light of the patriot act and resultant police state that this has begun to change.

      If he was mouthing off to make a political statement, it’s the police officer’s job at that point to be smart and realize his job in that situation is not to act as “enforcer” and instead transition to “educator”. School officers are supposed to be able to act in both roles when appropriate. He could have sat down with the student and had a conversation like two adults, and explained that though the student was in the right on this policy, his conduct with the teacher and the officer to remind them of that was inappropriate. Teach the kid that when talking to a police officer, whether the officer is a goon or not, it’s far better as a citizen to respectfully disagree than to loudly protest. Teach the kid about civil disobedience and how to respectfully decline. The kid will walk away having learned something, and be a better informed citizen who’s more aware of his rights and how to exercise them.

      Instead, this officer was on a personal power trip and was there to prove “this child isn’t going to make a fool of me”. Add a few more bureaucrats and elected officials out to make a political statement on how they are “tough on guns” and the stupidity ensues…

    • Old Rider

      The police should never have been involved in a dress code question at the school. The principal had the police summoned. She also decided not to call the student’s parents concerning a T-shirt the student was wearing . Before you decide that this kid was trouble, he’s an honor student with a spotless record. A question to ask is, how many other times have the police been summoned to that elementary school for non-violent/non-criminal incidents? And another question to ask is, why is it that the principal and the teacher were unaware of the provisions of their own school district dress code rules? Why did the band teacher mistakenly believe that images of hunting rifles on T-shirts were prohibited? Part of his job is to know school district policies. It is very much the principal’s job to see to it that all school staff read and understand the policies. Knowing their own policies would have prevented this.

  • SamF1911

    Does anyone else feel like the school overreacted to the situation? Did the school really need to call the police over a dress code violation? What in the world are we as a country turning into when we do this kind of crap!?! Good luck young man.

    • NeoPrudentist

      They probably thought the gun on the T-shirt was going to jump out and start shooting students all by itself.

      • SamF1911

        I take real issue with a teacher/school that can’t handle something as simple as a “dress code violation” without getting the police involved. I guess the real question is…are these the right people to be teaching our children? I think not.

        • NeoPrudentist

          Just another sign that we are getting closer and closer to the line between republic and police state…

          • libertarians make sense

            We ARE there!

    • BJC

      I agree with you Sam, schools have gotten ridiculous these days. As long as the kid wasn’t violent they should have called his parent’s and resolved the issue. Calling the police show’s the school administration has no back bone, I would publicly ridicule them for being spineless.

      • SamF1911

        Ridiculous was the school getting the police involved in the first place but what the officer did was a downright disgrace by arresting the young man. Now I hear the prosecutor in the case has requested a gag order be put into effect saying, “it would be in the best interest of the child.” This whole thing makes me sick! What would be in the best interest of the young man is if the prosecutor just dropped the charges and apologized for his unconstitutional conduct.

        • BJC

          Very true Sam. Nowadays you hear more and more about police being more like a gestapo organization than protect and serve public official’s.

          • SamF1911

            I find it odd that the schools/teachers don’t seem to have a problem with students wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt or Charles Manson t-shirt but if a student wants to wear a NRA t-shirt or any other pro-2nd amendment for that matter it’s a “dress code violation”. It’s just a bunch of BS!

          • BJC

            Yes, the media, school’s and the current administration are pushing that if you are pro-2nd amendment and believe you should have the right to protect your self that there is something wrong with you. I firmly believe the opposite to be true, if you want to take my rights and ability to protect myself away than there is something wrong with you. They are all pro-criminal and anti-law abiding citizen.

    • John Mission, Texas

      This is the policy in every school. No matter how to slice it the kid was disrespectful to a teacher and he needs to be punished. Kid needs to learn respect for authority. This has nothing to do with NRA it’s all about how his parents need to step up and punish their child.

      • SamF1911

        So standing up for ones constitutional rights is now disrespecful? Please, spare me your misguided logic John. Bottom line the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

        • John Mission, Texas

          Tell me….when you were a kid. Were you allowed to talk back to your teachers or the police.
          There is a way to stand up for your rights…and we need to teach our kids to handle things like adults. Respect is the first step. Yes Sir / No Sir used to be the norm…now it’s let me do and say what I want bc I’m “standing up for my rights”

          • SamF1911

            Well let me think back…..when I did talk back to a teacher I got sent to “detention”, rightly so I should say. As far as what my father had in store for me let’s just say I learned how to clean the the gutters and paint the fence like a pro. I never had the police called on me by a teacher only then to be put in handcuffs, taken off to jail, face a $500 fine, and have my record tarnished.

            Now let’s talk about respect since you brought it up. Respect is a two way street, it doesn’t matter who you are, cop, teacher, etc, etc, etc. If the teacher couldn’t defuse this “dress code” situation with a teenager that teacher probably shouldn’t be teaching them in the first place. As for a officer that can’t talk a young man down over a t-shirt he shouldn’t be in law enforcement at all.

          • John Mission, Texas

            With all due respect sir…you obviously have not been in any high school lately. Kids have been know to beat up, stab, and kill teachers. That’s why it is not standard policy with most school districts to call the police. In my opinion this has gotten out of control, but I blame the parents for not making the kid apologize for disrespecting the teacher, police and school. The rules are the rules. If he disagrees with them…then the proper way to handle it is to go before the school board and lobby for what he feels is right.

          • SamF1911

            Have a nice day John.

          • John Mission, Texas

            you too sir…good discussion.
            BTW…I’m an NRA member and CHL holder.

          • libertarians make sense

            Disgusting. When did disrespecting an officer become a jailable offense? When did disrespect fall under obstructing an officer? Is it not fair to say this is being blown out of stupidity? And bringing up the parents, defeats your whole argument. If they were called and allowed to discipline their child for being “mean to an officer of the law, this whole thing could have been avoided, right?

      • BJC

        As far as I’m concerned teacher’s and now cop’s need to earn respect and forcing their own political agenda doesn’t qualify. The school should not have called the police and the cop should not have arrested the kid.

      • Old Rider

        The band teacher, David Burroway, ordered Marcum to remove or reverse his T-shirt. Marcum was exercising his First Amendment rights by expressing a political opinion. The teacher had no legal right to order the student to remove or reverse his T-shirt. The school district cannot exempt itselt from federal law. Both the teacher and the principal were unaware of the provisions of their own dress code. If it is being disrespectful to insist that you are not in violation of a dress code rule that doesn’t exist, then I suppose that is one way to characterize Marcum’s telling the teacher that his shirt didn’t violate school rules. There’s no reason to punish a child for being right and refusing to back down in the face of threats. Teachers need to learn respect for federal laws and the contents of their own darned school’s policies and procedures manual.

  • salamero

    how can I take side with the cops who arrested a teen for wearing a shirt they don’t like, absurd, our government is behaving like the KGB/Stasi

  • Dave

    If a police officer tells you to be quiet within the confines of a school, best hold your tongue. But for school officials, the police and the county prosecutor to take it this far is simply an abuse of power. It is called malicious prosecution in legal terms. And people wonder why law abiding citizens are increasingly distrustful of their government and law enforcement officials. You don’t think it can happen to you? Think again.

    • libertarians make sense

      Like the couple in Florida who had a microchip implanted in their newborn, (for safety?!) we are freely surrendering and allowing our rights to be systematically removed, rewritten and stomped on. How long before Obamacare is implemented and all newborns must have a tracking device shoved up their butts? Distrustful? I am a bit more than that when it comes to Govt intervention and spying, filming, recording and tracking everyone in the name of “The War on Terror”. when you cannot fight a noun which means “Fear”. Who is afraid? I am. Only of this Govt and their thuggery packaged to look like security!

  • rycsailor

    What ever happened to detention for infractions of school rules? This gets elevated to the level of a serious crime based on the “opinion” of a cop and prosecutor who gets worried about school infractions when there are criminals running around? Have the crazies taken control of the looney bin or just the levers of power?

    • NeoPrudentist

      Look at Washington DC, the levers of power are all in a looney bin…

  • GG45

    An obvious Free Speech issue, and yet the ACLU seems to have no interest here at all.

    • Old Rider

      The ACLU is involved.

      • GG45

        Old Rider, I’m not doubting you, but after I saw your reply, I Goggled the boy’s name and ACLU, and read through 4 pages of links to sites questioning why the ACLU wasn’t involved, finding none that said they were. Could you post a link to an Article that says that they were? I would be very pleased to find out that they are defending Marcum’s 1ST Amendment Rights. Thank you, GG45

        • GG45

          Perhaps I’m just not very good, or adept, at surfing the Internet, but I’ve continued to look for some mention of the ACLU taking an active, or even an inactive, part in Marcum’s defense, but have failed to find anything.

          • Old Rider

            You probably won’t find it on the Web. That’s not where I got the information. I don’t expect they’ll be mentioned until the civil suit is filed against the school district. I went on a bit of a rant to someone close to this incident about the ACLU this and that and why weren’t they involved. I received a two word response. “They’re invovled.” You might find an article on this case by Ian Tuttle interesting. Find his July 1 article for National Review. According to Tuttle, before the police arrived, the band teacher conferred with the school attorney. He then conceded that school rules didn’t prohibit Marcum’s NRA shirt. The teacher was wrong in yelling at the kid and creating a scene, yet the kid gets suspended for being “disruptive”. Also do a search of “Logan Banner + NRA T-shirt”. It should bring up a letter written to the Logan newspaper early on by Brenda Lee Greene, head of the WV ACLU.

  • BJC

    The police officer arrested the kid for obstruction when he stopped talking. What’s the first thing they say when reciting the Miranda Act, “you have the right to remain silent”, so the charges have no merit. Sounds like the cop doesn’t know his job.

  • Kevin Lipps

    These events always end badly for the school, you would think by now teachers would have learned not to do this..

  • iamanunhappyvoter

    I foresee an officer a teacher and a prosecutor looking for new jobs in the future. All three of these jobs require an individual with good judgement and the individuals in this story seem to have none.

    • libertarians make sense

      in a sane world that would happen, but I see the cop being made captain, and he teacher given a medal for bravery!

  • BarrysHypocrisy

    Sounds like officer James Adkins is trying real hard to make up for a lack of something else (I’ll bet he’s got a small weenie).

    Also, crime must be almost non-existent in this town if they are spending time arresting and prosecuting 8th graders for wearing t-shirts.

  • libertarians make sense

    I want my child indoctrinated and given a rap sheet by the time he is 10 too! WTF kind of world do we live in? Out of control, a bit, maybe? LESS GOVT PLEASE! -needs to be the new war cry…

  • SamF1911

    Update (01JUL13). The cas against the 14 y/o Logan Middle School honor student Jared Marcum of Logan, W.V., was dismissed with prejudice.

  • Bret

    After Christmas break my 6yr old stepson came home from school and I had my guns out cleaning them on the kitchen table he had seen my guns numerous times before but this time when he saw them he screamed and started to cry, initially I had no idea what was wrong and asked him what happened buddy, what he said next shocked me and pissed me off so bad I’m still not over it. He said Bret guns are bad and they scare me and people shouldn’t have guns. I asked him where he got that idea as the previous summer I had to explain to him why he wasn’t quite big enough to shoot my Taurus 444 ultra light, and he told me his teacher told him guns are bad and hopefully soon people won’t be able to have them anymore. This was obviously immediately in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy and new emergency response drills at the school. So I sat him down and explained to him that unfortunately the world isn’t perfect and there are some sick people out there that don’t belong in it and just because someone owns guns doesn’t mean they’re bad and the people who want to take guns away from us are just as bad and more numerous than the people who use guns against us! Then I moved on to the subject of his teacher, I said the next time your teacher says something like that stand up and say Teacher I’m here to learn facts not your opinion.

  • tim

    they should read the bill of rights

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