Jay-Z’s social justice arm Team Roc has slammed the arrest of a peaceful Charleston protester who, in a viral video, was singled out by police and taken into custody.
In the video seen by over 29.5 million people on Twitter, Givionne “Gee” Jordan Jr. is peacefully protesting in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 31st. In an impassioned plea, Jordan Jr. tells police officers that he loves and respects them when, for no apparent reason, the police move toward the kneeling protesters and arrest Jordan Jr.
please watch. please listen closely. if anyone has any information on this man / a link to his go fund me please let me know. this is absolutely not okay. we will not be silenced. pic.twitter.com/t2h6FovmoL
— (っ'-')╮ (@sweeeetdee_) June 1, 2020
Jordan Jr. was taken to jail and charged with “disobeying lawful order”; he was released June 1st on a $465 bond, with his court date scheduled for June 16th. When asked about Jordan Jr.’s arrest, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds told the Post and Courier, “We specifically asked for them, numerous times, to disperse. We said if you don’t you will be arrested.”
The day after Jordan Jr.’s arrest, Team Roc lawyer Jordan Siev sent a letter to the city of Charleston condemning the arrest, seeking the dismissal of the charges against Jordan Jr. and demanding that the police officers involved be reprimanded.
“It has come to Roc Nation’s attention that in the course of retaliating against and attempting to control these protests, some of Charleston’s police have gone so far as to arrest nonviolent, non-threatening protesters solely on the basis of their constitutionally protected speech,” Siev wrote. “Here one sees a single protester — who does not threaten, provoke or even approach the dozens of armed police officers facing him, kneeling peacefully and expressing his well-justified grief — hauled away from his fellows and unceremoniously arrested by multiple officers. A more clear-cut violation of this protester’s First Amendment rights could hardly be imagined. It is our understanding that this is not an isolated incident.”
Siev added: “Roc Nation urges Chief Reynolds, and the entire Charleston Police Department, to do what is right. Honor these protesters’ human and constitutional right to protest. Respect their entitlement to speak out regarding the enduring specter of racism in our nation — which all too often finds its expression in violence by law enforcement officers. Act now to release all protesters who have been arrested without lawful cause, and make it known that further acts of repression by Charleston police will not be tolerated.”
Ten days after Siev’s letter, on June 11th, the City of Charleston responded with what Team Roc called “lackluster” letter that didn’t specifically address the Jordan Jr. arrest.
“The City is continuing to navigate through the unprecedented and violent attack by rioters on the City and its citizens on Saturday, May 30, 2020, and continues to hold the safety and security of citizens and visitors as a top priority. Protests have continued throughout the City since that evening and the City and the police department have strived to preserve the individual constitutional rights of protestors,” City of Charleston assistant corporation counsel Heather Mulloy wrote in response to Siev’s letter. “As solidarity with lawful peaceful protestors and trust with the community are also goals of the City and the police department, the City and the police department continue to work hand in hand with leaders of protest groups to protect their safety and that of the citizens of Charleston throughout these trying times.”
Following the City of Charleston’s letter, Team Roc Director of Philanthropy Dania Diaz issued a statement again demanding the dismissal of the charges against Jordan Jr.
“We are outraged by the Charleston police department’s reprehensible arrest of Givionne Jordan Jr. — not to mention their dismissive response to our concerns about their conduct. Giovionne’s arrest was unlawful and the Charleston police clearly violated his Constitutional right to peacefully protest. We applaud Givionne and demand that his charges are immediately dismissed,” Diaz said.
Recently, Jay-Z and Roc Nation took out full-page newspaper ads dedicated to George Floyd and featuring the words of Martin Luther King Jr.