The middle school where the eighth-grader who was arrested after refusing to remove a t-shirt supporting the National Rifle Association has a big statue out front of a World War I soldier toting a conspicuous rifle (and a hand grenade).
The larger-than-life bronze statue, called The Doughboy, stands seven feet tall and stands atop a 12-foot granite base. He is clutching the hand grenade in his right hand, which is above his head. In his left hand, the soldier holds what appears to be a standard-issue infantry rifle affixed with a bayonet.
A bronze plaque on the base of the statue lists the names of 39 men who died in the Great War defending the country and its values, according to a local historical website.
Earlier this month, 14-year-old Jared Marcum of Logan County, West Va. was formally charged with obstructing an officer. He was also suspended from school for one day. His crime was refusing a teacher’s request to take off the shirt, which was emblazoned with a hunting rifle and the statement “protect your right.” (RELATED: Eighth-grader arrested over NRA shirt returns to school in same shirt)
For the criminal charge of obstructing an officer, Marcum now faces a $500 fine and a maximum of one year in prison or juvenile confinement.
In court papers, the arresting officer, James Adkins, reportedly asserts that the criminal obstruction occurred because he couldn’t get Marcum to stop talking.
The police chief in Logan City (pop. 1,779) insists that Marcum wasn’t arrested for wearing the shirt. Instead, says Chief E.K. Harper, Marcum was arrested for the disruption he caused at school after a teacher told him to remove the shirt in the school cafeteria.
The school district’s policy doesn’t prohibit shirts promoting constitutional rights, though it does prohibit messages supporting violence.
According to local NBC affiliate WSAZ, police have been receiving several dozen calls each day from random people who are irate about the way local officials have handled the case.
Police haven’t been able to speak candidly thus far but insist that they will be vindicated when they are able to tell their side of the story.
“His conduct in school almost incited a riot,” the chief had previously told ABC News.
“We’re not the Nazi police,” Harper told WSAZ. “We’re unable to tell our whole side of it because laws in West Virginia prevent you from telling the details of a juvenile.”
“Our phone calls are unreal,” Harper added. “We’ve got rashes of complaints, threats and everything in here.”
The police chief also added that he is an ardent NRA supporter.
The details police have been keeping confidential will presumably come out soon. This week, prosecutors sought an emergency gag order in the case but agreed to withdraw the request if Marcum’s father waived the confidentiality that prevents the prosecutors from also speaking about the criminal case. (RELATED: Podunk prosecutors seek gag order against eighth-grader arrested over NRA shirt)
A reporter from local CBS affiliate WOWK who was attempting to cover the story and oppose the gag order on behalf of her employer was threatened with arrest by a bailiff.
The Logan County Courthouse bailiff told the reporter, Charlo Greene, that presiding judge Eric O’Briant had requested her removal.
“I was moments away from getting arrested today for just trying to do my job…,” Greene recounted via her Twitter account. “Mondays in Logan County.”