Man arrested after posting lyrics defended
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — A lawyer for a man who spent several days in jail after posting violent song lyrics on Facebook says he should be cleared of a felony charge.
James E. Evans was charged in late August with terroristic threatening and spent several days in jail. Evans had posted the lyrics from a song by the heavy metal band Exodus that included the words, “student bodies lying dead in the halls.”
Bill Sharp, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, says the case is a free speech issue. The ACLU announced Wednesday that it is representing Evans.
“At this point, we’re looking to have him completely exonerated,” Sharp said.
Evans was charged by a law enforcement officer for the Muhlenberg County schools, west of Louisville. Evans lives in the county.
County officials did not return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.
The school officer, Mike Drake, told WFIE-TV in Evansville that several agencies received calls about Evans’ post, and the arrest warrant said he was taken into custody because he threatened to kill students or school staff. It was not clear what school the warrant was referring to. A phone message left for Drake was not returned Wednesday.
The band Exodus released a statement last week expressing disappointment over Evans’ arrest and jailing.
“The idea that an individual in this great country of ours could be arrested for simply posting lyrics to a song is something I never believed could happen in a free society,” said Gary Holt, a guitar player for the California-based band.
Holt said the song, “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)” was written “through the eyes of a madman” and was based on the Virginia Tech shootings that left 32 dead in 2007. He said the band stopped playing the song at live shows after the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
Evans was arrested and jailed on Aug. 26 and held on a $1,000 cash bond. He was released on Sept. 3, according to records at the Muhlenberg County Detention Center.
Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said Evans’ posting was protected by the First Amendment. “And there is no greater threat to our ability to exercise that right than to be thrown in jail for doing so,” Aldridge said in the statement.
Evans’ Facebook page shows postings of song lyrics from other bands, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The full posting from the Exodus lyrics, according to WFIE-TV, was: “Student bodies lying dead in the halls, a blood splattered treatise of hate. Class dismissed is my hypothesis, gun fire ends in debate.” The post has been deleted from his page.
Evans is due in court for a hearing on Oct. 1.