Littleton school settles with student arrested for Obama protest
January 7, 2010
LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) – A Colorado high school student who was arrested in 2008 for wearing a “Nobama” sticker outside a campaign appearance by Michelle Obama has won a settlement from the school.
Blake Beeson was handcuffed and arrested for interference the day before the presidential election, when Michelle Obama visited Dakota Ridge High School to campaign for her husband.
Beeson and two other students stood outside the gym where the future first lady was speaking and held campaign signs for Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate.
School officials told Beeson to leave. He refused and was arrested and suspended from school for a day.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado announced Wednesday that Jefferson County Schools and the county sheriff’s department would pay Beeson $4,000 to avoid a lawsuit. Authorities dropped criminal charges against him in May.
“Jefferson County officials were wrong to censor the peaceful, purely political speech of a high school student just a day before a historic national election,” ACLU staff attorney Taylor Pendergrass said in a statement.
Beeson said he hoped the settlement would promote student activism.
“If one thing comes from this case, I hope it is that other students will learn more about their free-speech rights and not be afraid to use them,” Benson said.
Jefferson County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelley told The Denver Post that the arrest caused an internal investigation and that “lessons were learned from the investigation.”