Ohio Woman Jailed For Refusing to Remove "Black Lives Matter" Pin During Court Proceedings

An attorney who refused to remove her "Black Lives Matter" pin during court proceedings suddenly found herself on the wrong side of the law after a judge sent her to jail for contempt of court. 

Youngstown, Ohio news station WKBN reports that Judge Robert Milich of the Youngstown Municipal Court said that his own politics had nothing to do with his finding that attorney Andrea Burton was in violation of the law.

"A judge doesn't support either side," he told the station. "A judge is objective and tries to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and it was a situation where it was just in violation of the law," he said.

Burton's fellow attorney and community activist Kim Akins said that the incident represented a troubling double standard in the sartorial decisions permitted in court.

"No one wearing an American flag button would be removed. No one wearing a crucifix or a Star of David would be removed. So why this particular statement bothered him so much ... is bothersome," she said.

But Milich said that the Supreme Court has held in the past that political attire can be prohibited by courtroom judges if they so choose, and added that a garment signaling political inclination is different from  "... a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles."

Though Burton has been sentenced to 5 days in jail, she has been released on a stay for the duration of an ongoing appeals process.

The Youngstown branch of the NAACP released a statement on July 22 saying that it was investigating Burton's case to see whether her rights had been violated, adding that it had reached out to the association's national legal office for assistance.

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