Jay-Z’s Team Roc demands charges against a peaceful protester are dismissed

‘A more clear-cut violation of this protester’s First Amendment rights could hardly be imagined,’ says the company, of the Charleston demonstrator’s arrest

Earlier this month (June 1), a video emerged of a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Charleston, South Carolina. The viral video (below) shows a protester – later identified as Givionne “Gee” Jordan Jr. – addressing police officers with a plea for unity, until said officers approach the crowd and pull Jordan out to arrest him.

Jordan Jr. has since been released on $465 bail, but faces a charge of “disobeying lawful order”, though fellow protesters pointed out that he was exercising his right to free speech.

The day after the arrest, a lawyer from Jay-Z’s Team Roc – the social justice arm of Roc Nation – sent a letter to the city of Charleston, calling for the charges to be dismissed and for the officers involved to be reprimanded.

“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,” writes the Team Roc lawyer, Jordan Siev. “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.”

As reported by Rolling Stone, the city of Charleston responded with a letter June 11, which Team Roc calls “dismissive”, and which only talks in general terms about the protests, rather than addressing Jordan Jr.’s case in particular.

Team Roc has since issued another demand for the charges to be dropped, with Director of Philanthropy Dania Diaz writing: “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.”

Despite still offering no clarification on whether Jordan Jr.’s charges will be dropped, or if the officers involved will face repercussions, Charleston police chief Luther Reynolds has made a statement to TMZ, claiming that the arrest was due to a refusal to follow police orders. 

“At the appropriate time,” Reynolds adds, “I will have the opportunity to make recommendations in these cases, and will be requesting that prosecutors exercise leniency, up to and including dismissal, as the circumstances warrant.”

Through Team Roc, Jay-Z has also been campaigning for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in recent weeks, alongside those protesting the killings.