Ohio Attorney Sentenced to Jail for Wearing BLM Button Files Lawsuit
“To remain neutral has become an accomplice to oppression.” Attorney Andrea Burton
By Sheryl Estrada
Ohio attorney Andrea Burton filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday against Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich, his colleague Judge Elizabeth Kobly and the city. Milich sentenced Burton to five days in the Mahoning County Jail because she refused to remove a Black Lives Matter button she wore in court on July 22.
“I’m not neutral to injustice,” saidBurton,who was found in contempt of court.”To remain neutral has become an accomplice to oppression.”
Milich said his ruling is based on Supreme Court case law, in which a judge can prohibit symbolic political expression in courtrooms.
“There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and have a pin that’s on a political issue,” Milich told WKBN.
Generally, judges are granted autonomy in what is allowable in their courtrooms.
Burton said her First Amendment right of free speech and 14th Amendment rights of due process and equal protection under the law were violated. She also said First Amendment rights overrule the law Milich refers to.
She was granted a stay of appeal and released from custody in July. Burton will stay out of jail during the appeals process if she abides by Milich’s order not to wear items that make a political statement in court. If she loses her appeal, she will have to serve the five days in jail.
However, in 2015 Milich did not abide by a Supreme Court ruling. When the court made its landmark decision on June 26, 2015, to legalize same-sex marriage nationally, he temporarily halted all marriages in his courtroom.
“I think as a judge, anytime, I have a right to recuse myself from an issue and I have the time to research it and determine what is the best position,” Milich said.
Talk of Black Lives Matter’s Political Agenda
Many alternative-right supporters have used all forms of media to vocalize disdain for BLM and what they consider a political agenda.
Joel Stein of TIME magazine wrote in a column on Thursday, “Trolling has become the main tool of the alt-right, an Internet-grown reactionary movement that works for men’s rights.”
Stein pointed out that a Trump supporter, Jeffrey Marty, created a popular fake Twitter account under the name “Congressman Steve Smith, a Tea Party Republican representing Georgia’s 15th District,” which doesn’t exist. It fooled many people.
Stein wrote, “For nearly three years Smith has spewed over-the-top conservative blather on Twitter,” which included blasting Black Lives Matter.
“I have 1.5 million views of my tweets every 28 days,” Marty said. “It’s a much bigger audience than I would have gotten if I called people up and said, ‘Did you ever consider Trump for President'”
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a Fox News contributor and a speaker at the Republican National Convention, recently condemned Black protesters in Milwaukee for “tribal” behavior and has also referred to BLM protesters as “sub-human creeps.”
Clarke said on “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday that BLM is political and doesn’t care about Blacks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, affected by the recent floods.
“Black Lives Matter They don’t care about Black lives,” Clarke said. “They don’t care about anybody’s life. They only care about political power.”
BLM, created in protest to police violence against African Americans, is nonpartisan. It defines itself as “a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society.”
In 2015, The Democratic National Committee (DNC) passed a resolution on August 28 condemning “extrajudicial killings of unarmed African American men, women and children,”in support of the movement.
BLM issued astatement on Facebookon August 30 in response to the resolution,stating, “We do not now, nor have we ever, endorsed or affiliated with the Democratic Party, or with any party.”
In May, Black female cadets who were a part of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s graduating class of 2016 took a photo in uniform with their fists raised. The photo was investigated by the military and the school for being political. And, there was speculation of a connection to BLM.
According to theArmy Times, the image had been shared widely in military circles, “with claims the women are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.”
That claim originated from blogger John Burk, an Iraq war veteran, who posted the photograph on his website and said the women may be in support of BLM, violating a Department of Defense directive on partisan political activity.
Former Republican Congressman Allen B. West wrote a blog post in regard to the photo:
“In any other times we could possibly just dismiss this as a very stupid move by these 16 female West Point Cadets, future U.S. Army Second Lieutenants. However, in the hypersensitive racial atmosphere created by the liberal progressive left, this has to be considered.”
The investigation found the women did not violate the Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, and no punitive was taken. It was determined the photo was among several taken in a spur-of-the-moment intention to demonstrate “unity” and “pride,” according to the findings of the inquiry.
A letter writtenby Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., academy superintendent, said the inquiry determined the photo did not solely represent political activism, and other cadets, including himself, have used raised or “clenched” fists.