Another Black Lives Matter Story that has the potential to end badly for all involved. Check out what this Ohio judge just did to a layer in his courtroom.
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An attorney was jailed in Youngstown, Ohio when she refused to remove her Black Lives Matter pin while she was in the courtroom.
Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich ruled that attorney Andrea Burton was in contempt of court. He ordered her to remove her Black Lives Matter pin, and she did not. So the gavel fell.
The sentence? Five days in jail. This is not all that uncommon for disobeying a judge’s order. And, because of the controversial nature of this decision, she has been released on a stay. Her attorneys are appealing the decision. If she doesn’t wear the pin again in the court room, she may stay out of jail altogether.
But the damage has been done, and free-speech activists are crying foul.
“No one wearing an American flag button, no one wearing a crucifix or a Star of David would be removed, so why this particular statement bothered him so much is bothersome,” attorney Kim Akins said.
Is a cross or a flag analogous to a button showing solidarity with a controversial political movement? Judge Milich didn’t seem to think so.
Milich has solid footing for his argument. He cited a Supreme Court case prohibiting political speech in the courtroom as precedent for his decision.
“A judge doesn’t support either side. A judge is objective and tries to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and it was a situation where it was just a violation of the law,” Milich said. “There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and having a pin that’s on a political issue.”
That hasn’t squelched the obvious allegations of racism. The Youngstown branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is watching the case, claiming that the judge’s decision is a violation of Burton’s civil rights.
“We will do all that the NAACP Youngstown can do to ensure that Attorney Burton’s Constitutional rights are not being violated,” Youngstown NAACP president George Freeman wrote.
In this hyper-charged atmosphere in which police have become targets, many are questioning the judge’s decision to push this issue, worrying it might make him a target. Others applaud Milich’s decision to stand up for what he feels was right.