Michigan man, 18, barred from voting with ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt showing

The front of the t-shirt worn by Jack Lawson. Photo by Charlotte Hoppen.

The front of the t-shirt worn by Jack Lawson. Photo by Charlotte Hoppen.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

At 18, Jack Lawson was elated to vote for the first time.

But when the Seaholm High School senior arrived at his Birmingham precinct to vote with his father in the March 18 presidential primary election, a precinct worker threatened to call the police because he was wearing a Birmingham Black Student Union t-shirt that contained the words “Black Lives Matter.”

Lawson was told to leave unless he removed or covered the shirt. If he didn’t comply, police would be called to remove him, the precinct chairman told the Seaholm Highlander in a story that is an impressive example of strong student journalism.

The precinct worker warned the first-time voter, “‘I’m serious, if you don’t take that off I’m calling the police or if you don’t change I’m calling the police,’” Lawson recalled.  

Lawson, who is white, was conflicted. He didn’t think a shirt representing tolerance could be considered a political statement that violates state voting laws.

“At first I was angry and I wanted to resist,” Lawson said. “I generally didn’t feel I was violating any law, but at the same time this was my first time voting.”

Not wanting to miss his first opportunity to vote, Lawson borrowed his father’s jacket and covered his t-shirt.

The precinct chairman, who wasn’t named in the story, told the Seaholm Highlander that “Black Lives Matters” amounts to a political statement.

“There is nothing wrong with the shirt to wear it out in public,” the precinct chairman said. “It’s just because it had the political slogans and the campaigning slogans, or things that could be misconstrued that way that was the only issue.”

Lawson told Motor City Muckraker that he won’t be deterred from voting in the future.

“It was my first voting experience so I didn’t know what to expect, but I definitely didn’t expect to be treated the way I was,” Lawson said. “I don’t feel at all deterred from voting again and plan on returning to vote in November.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Harry Palmer.

    I don’t see why anyone would want to wear a hate group’s t-shirt anyway.

  • Harry Palmer.

    I don’t see why anyone would want to wear a hate group’s t-shirt anyway.

  • Mekkel Richards

    Hopefully next time he will refuse to take off/cover the shirt. Solidarity with an oppressed community is not a campaigning slogan. BLM has explicitly NOT endorsed any candidate as well. Shame on the Birmingham precinct worker.

  • wahoochuck

    I went to seaholm and without a doubt in my mind know that this is some rich white kid from the village making himself feel better by supporting a stupid cause like “black lives matter”.

    That being said, you should be able to wear whatever you want when voting.

  • Alfred Hitchcock XIV

    Now, if he had his pants hanging down, demonstrating that he was open for business, then there would be no problem.

  • falseprophet

    You cant have political banners within a certain distance of the pools. Good job folks. This idiot is just starting some trouble. What a drag on society.

  • Joeysback

    This is just ridiculous! That poll worker needs an education. Since when have people everywhere tried to stop people from voting? I am 69 years old, and have voted with no problems until the last few years. Suddenly, in Grosse Pointe Park, I was asked for my ID, my drivers’ license. What is that all about?.What if I didn’t have one? Would a State of MI ID Card work? (Everyone knows those are easier to get than a hot dog at a ballgame!!) Poll workers used to compare your signature to the one on file. Are they too incompetent to do that now?

    It all amounts to turning people away from the polls and that is a dangerous precedent to set!!

    • SnowStormsinDetroit

      It’s only a dangerous precedent if you’re a Democrat. I’m sure you already know that low voter turnouts tend to favor the Republican Candidates.

  • Harry Palmer

    “It’s just because it had the political slogans and the
    campaigning slogans, or things that could be misconstrued that way that
    was the only issue.”
    Huh? I don’t see any “political slogan” on that shirt.
    So, if I wore a Tee with the Koch Industries logo on it, would that be considered a “political statement” in Birmingham?

    • WiserWords2

      I’m wondering what would have happened had his shirt said “Make America Great Again”

  • Pierre Savoie

    A shirt representing tolerance? So why did BLM Toronto tweet about killing Whites? It has ties to Islamist terrorism, based on what she said.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/04/05/black-lives-matter-co-founder-called-out-for-tweet-deemed-racist.html

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Because white privilege, I think. Also look up speech codes in canada, you can get banned from the country, and have 500k, judgements against you if you offend people.

      Any idea is BLM people got 500k fines, and banned from entering the country ?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Because white privilege, I think. Also look up speech codes in canada, you can get banned from the country, and have 500k, judgements against you if you offend people.

      Any idea is BLM people got 500k fines, and banned from entering the country ?

    • WiserWords2

      The last time I went to Toronto, it was not part of the United States.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    “At first I was angry and I wanted to resist,” Lawson
    said. “I generally didn’t feel I was violating any law, but at the same
    time this was my first time voting.”

    Is this real life, we feel we violate laws? First of all this kid is 18, how can he possibly know all the laws out there, I used to be a voracious reader since about 4th grade and I had a very limited idea of all the crap laws out there at 18.

    I guess what an 18 year old knows off the top of his head, that he wants to benefit him, that is what society has to live by.

    Heads up kid, the feds have about 70,000 pages of laws just relating to business, they add about 2,000 pages per year every year in recent times.

    Lawyers have to specialize because they cannot be educated in all the minutia and nuances of all the volumes of laws.

  • Trexinmichigan

    What? a racist in Birmingham? Nooooo,never.

    • Beau Zeau

      Oh little town of Birmingham
      How still we see thee lie

  • Donald E. Hodge

    Now does anyone truly believe, That was the reason The voting clerk wanted him to remove the shirt? Any Ballsy lawyers out their that want to take this on?…………now`s your chance.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Nothing to gain, except your name in the paper, all the young man had to do was turn his shirt inside out, he suffered no damages.

      I have gotten my absentee ballot about 4-5 days after my first presidential election was over, and no one cried for me, no one said it was racial, no one in DC lost their job. They say no taxation with out representation, I should have gotten that entire election cycle tax free, but I did not. I got nothing.

      By the way, your boy obama and his henchman, said its perfectly legal to have a hate group with weapons at an poll station tell people what to vote. The new black panther party had weapons in philly polling station, it took holder about 4-5 years to even address it.

      I know you are often slow, so that mean the actual klan can show up anywhere with weapons and tell people how to vote. Not really, because there is no white privilege, its just the opposite, this proves it. In theory it should be able to exist, or just some white club, white dudes united, etc. Look it up, I am certain no place you get your slanted news from would ever say a single bad thing about obama.

      This guy aint getting shit.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Nobody cried for you Baby because Nobody likes you. Why does everything always have to be this big speech. Shit are you really that hurt man?

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Are you getting ready for another round of Democrats in the White House! Hell yeah! I know I am. It`s going to be Great! Four more years Javier! Ya Whoooo! Yippyyyyyyyyyy!

        • javierjuanmanuel

          How else would you buy your illegal drugs and have a roof over your head if not for other looking out for you.

          Are you slow as shit, a poor reader? You think that is long?

          How would you say it more briefly?

          You brought up a lawsuit, holder already said hate groups can have weapons at polling stations, and nothing happens. So no lawsuit, you dreamer.

          People are allowed to have whips, chains, clubs, bats, battons, and tell you how to vote. That is a fact !

        • javierjuanmanuel

          How else would you buy your illegal drugs and have a roof over your head if not for other looking out for you.

          Are you slow as shit, a poor reader? You think that is long?

          How would you say it more briefly?

          You brought up a lawsuit, holder already said hate groups can have weapons at polling stations, and nothing happens. So no lawsuit, you dreamer.

          People are allowed to have whips, chains, clubs, bats, battons, and tell you how to vote. That is a fact !

          • Donald E. Hodge

            Wow, Whips! Chains! Well Hello Sailor ! Now we know where all the Hall & Oates music was coming from. Sorry Mary, I`m not that way. Love the women to much, But if it fits you Big boy then that’s ok Sport. Bang on Javy and keep sailing those Silent seas of savagery 🙂

      • WiserWords2

        You’re a white person living a country founded for whites by whites. You’re a white person living in a country where whites spent centuries denying nonwhite Americans the opportunity to pursue the American dream by restricting their every move from cradle to grave.

        It has only been 50 years since nonwhite Americans were finally given the SAME rights whites, like you, have benefited from for generations. And now you’re suggesting that suddenly, whites have no privilege?

        • Eminent Scholar

          More complete ignorance. Black slaveholders in Africa (who actually enslaved and sold other blacks) are multi-millionaires today. Whites died to free the slaves. Hundreds of thousands of whites died. A Republican POTUS fought to end slavery and was killed for standing up. Since then, whites have been enslaved by being forced to pay taxes and a portion of their hard earned money goes to support a disproportionate number of blacks who could work yet find it easier to sit on their worthless azzes. Whites have zero say in this matter. Cradle to grave. Blacks are sucking in oxygen today because of whites. The truth hurts doesn’t it. You’re an utter fool.

          • WiserWords2

            Your comment is an excellent display of your twisted racist logic. You mentioned nothing about the whites IN AMERICA who built their fortunes on Black slave labor IN AMERICA. America’s biggest corporations led by WHITES were built and funded by slave labor. You mentioned nothing about the Black people who died during the period of slavery and the Black people who died defending a country where whites treated them as chattel. You mention nothing about the decades after slavery where it was legal to pay Black people less to do the same job as whites. You mentioned nothing about how Black Americans paid the same taxes and fees but did not receive the same level of services as whites. You try to ignore the fact that the overwhelming amount of “hard earned money goes to support” white people. You try to justify the the overwhelming number of white people sucking out MY tax dollars by referring to “proportions” of a population.

            In short, your comment is a perfect example of how racism needs ignorance to exist.

          • Eminent Scholar

            Your comment is a superb example of deflection from truth. You mentioned nothing about the hundreds of thousands of WHITES who shed their own blood for blacks. You mentioned nothing about the black war lords of Africa who enslaved blacks and who are now wealthy as a result. You mentioned nothing about the DISPROPORTIONATE number of blacks sucking off of white taxpayers. You mentioned nothing about the complete destruction of once great cities across America all because of negroids. You mentioned nothing about the discrimination faced by whites over the past 4 1/2 decades. Denied employment although better qualified. Denied college admission with 4.0 GPA’s while thousands of illiterate blacks are shown the front door. The truth is something that hurts racists like you. Were you born this ignorant or did you take lessons?

            In short, your useless comment is simply another example of why post birth abortion for racist libtards is not necessarily a bad thing. Turn in your EBT card by noon tomorrow and start picking up pop cans. LMFAO!!! !!!

  • The law as written includes interest groups, but seems to intend those in direct support of a candidate or issue on the ballot. BLM has tried, with laughable tactics, to show that is not affiliated with any party or candidate. I think it has succeeded. I read the chairman’s response to the Seaholm newspaper (good reporting, kids!) and noticed he mentioned offense as a factor (only in a city like Birmingham…). That doesn’t matter. Campaign clothing, and only campaign clothing, is prohibited.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      only in birmingham, try showing up in a shirt at an election line in near by oak park our or southfield with a shirt that says stop black on white crime, white lives matter, anything positive about whites. White pride ?

      See how your day goes.

      Black lives matter is not offensive, except I know damn well if I started a campaign in 2005 called white lives matter, I would be told it implies that only white lives matter. So the same has to apply to black lives matter.

      I would have been told all lives matter, and you can infact be called a racist for saying all lives matter, thats how crazy it is these days.

      • Thomas Amnesia

        What are you, like 12 years old? Only after you’ve grown up and have been able to witness decades of incidents like those that led to the Black Lives Matter movement will you begin to understand. Until then, it’s easier to hear when your mouth is shut.

      • WiserWords2

        We’ve had a white lives matter campaign for over 400 years.

        • Eminent Scholar

          and what 400 years would that have been? Let us know. European “whites” were labeled and mistreated for years when they came to this country. The Irish, The Germans, The Italians, etc. Learn history. The were victims but I don’t recall them crying and asking for safe spaces. Ignorance is bliss.

          • WiserWords2

            Yes dear,, the “…Irish, The Germans, The Italians, etc.” were mistreated. But they were never subjected to slavery, or laws that determined where they were born, lived, went to school, voted, sat on a bus, ate in a restaurant, watched a movie, swam in a pool, worked…

            I guess that explains why they didn’t have to cry and ask for safe spaces.

            If ignorance is bliss, you must be the most blissful person in the free world.

          • Eminent Scholar

            You are truly not stupid. You simply have bad luck when thinking. You have no clue how the “Irish, The Germans, The Italians, etc.” were treated. Denied employment, spit on, beat up, killed and more. Not enough for you? Oh yea, and they never received government handouts to sit on their azzes. The actually began their own businesses and worked 20 hours daily / 7 days weekly to help build what you now enjoy. And what they built was beautiful. That is until negroids destroyed everything good. Beautiful cities across America destroyed. Turned into cesspools. Dig that! Jam that down your racist throat and then play in heavy traffic. LMAO!

  • Third World Detroit

    Wow.