Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z that already seems to have its hand in every aspect of the culture, has become a major player in civil rights activism.
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Its latest victory involved helping to clear 11-year-old Jabari Talbot, who was arrested last month after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in his 6th-grade classroom in Florida, Complex.com reported Tuesday.
Authorities had charged Jabari with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence. Prosecutors dropped the charges against him after Roc Nation appointed attorney Alex Spiro to hand the case, according to XXL.com.
“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs. He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment,” said Spiro, who worked pro bono on Jabari’s case.
That was at least the third time this year alone that Roc Nation had stepped in to offer legal assistance, adding to an impressive list of civil rights accomplishments.
Spiro also aided in the release in February of rapper 21 Savage from immigration detention.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested the entertainer in Atlanta on Feb. 3. ICE said that 21 Savage, whose real name is Shayaabin Abraham-Joseph, is a United Kingdom citizen who entered the U.S. legally in July 2005 as a minor. However, he failed to leave the U.S. under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa. Consequently, ICE said his presence in the U.S. has been unlawful since his visa expired in July 2006. Jay-Z said the situation was an “absolute travesty” and called for 21 Savage to be immediately reunited with his family.
Roc Nation also assisted in the so-called “hoodie arrest” case in Tennessee in which prosecutors dropped charges in January against two Black men who were racially profiled.
In November, law enforcement officials took the two men into custody and charged them with trespassing. They were kicked out of the Wolfchase Galleria Mall in Memphis after refusing to remove their hoodies. Police officers allegedly told the men that wearing hoodies violated the mall’s dress code.
One of Roc Nation’s high-profile cases involved rapper Meek Mill, who Jay-Z’s company helped to release from prison in 2018. He had spent nearly five months incarcerated after a controversial sentence for probation violation.
Jay-Z collaborated with Amazon Studio last May to create a six-part documentary series that explored Mill’s “fight for exoneration while exposing flaws in the criminal justice system.”
In the latest victory, Jabari’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, thanked the Roc Nation for its commitment to justice.
“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,” she added. “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.”
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