Roc Nation is celebrating a major legal win for equality. After learning of the arrest of 11-year-old Jabari Talbot, who was apprehended by police in last month for refusing to stand for Pledge of Allegiance at school, the entertainment company (founded by JAY-Z) stepped in to help.
Talbot's story made headlines after the sixth grader engaged in a verbal dispute with his substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez, at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida on Feb. 4.
According to Bay News 9, Talbot told his teacher "the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people," and therefore he would not participate in pledging his allegiance. Alvarez reportedly asked the student if he felt so strongly about the pledge, why didn't he "leave the country" and he replied, "They brought me here."
From there things escalated and Talbot was reported to the school's main office and later arrested by a school resource officer. The arrest affidavit alleges Talbot threatened "to beat" Alvarez and told the principal and arresting officer he would get them fired.
At the time, Talbot's mom, Dhakira Talbot, spoke out about the incident, saying, "[Alvarez] was wrong. She was way out of place." Ms. Talbot added, "If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should've resolved that in a way different manner than she did."
Team ROC, a division of the entertainment company solely dedicated to racial injustice victims, contracted attorney Alex Spiro to work on Talbot's case pro bono, Complex reports. Team ROC has been involved in other notable cases this year, including 21 Savage's legal battle against Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs," Spiro said in a statement about the case. "He should've never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment."
After Talbot's case was dismissed, his mother released a statement thanking Roc Nation for their unwavering 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.
Ms. Talbot continued, "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 also tweeted out a statement along with a quote from Talbot himself, writing, "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." See the full message below.