Jay-Z's company helps get case dismissed against Central Florida boy who refused to stand for Pledge of Allegiance


Rapper Jay-Z's philanthropic team has reportedly helped secure the dismissal of a case against an 11-year-old Central Florida boy who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance last month, Complex reports.

Team ROC, a division of Jay-Z's entertainment company, helped Jabari Talbot, a sixth-grade student at Lawton Chiles Middle School, score the legal victory. The company enlisted lawyer Alex Spiro to head the case.

Last month, Bay News 9 reported that a confrontation between Talbot and substitute teacher Ana Alvarez on Feb. 4 escalated after the student refused to stand for the pledge, citing how he thought "the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people."

"Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live," Alvarez reportedly told the student.

He reportedly responded, "They brought me here."

"Well you can always go back," Alvarez reportedly told the student. "I came here from Cuba, and the day I feel I'm not welcome here anymore I would find another to place."

Dhakira Talbot, the student's mother, told WTSP 10 that the substitute also told her son to go back to his homeland in Africa.

A skirmish between the student, a school resource officers and dean broke out during the incident.

The student was reportedly arrested, taken to juvenile detention and charged with two misdemeanors for allegedly disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence, Bay News 9 reported.

The Ledger
reported that a Polk County Public Schools spokesperson said that the student was arrested for being "disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions," not because he refused to recite the pledge. The school also reportedly suspended the student for three days.

At the time the ACLU of Florida called the boy's arrest "outrageous."

Following the incident, a number of high-profile athletes, such as Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and Miami Heat player Justice Winslow, both of whom are managed by the Jay-Z's entertainment company, have commented on the case, Complex reports. 

Forcing public school children to salute the flag or recite the pledge was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1943.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.