The case of Alex Barnett, the University of Central Arkansas junior who was sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $650 for peacefully protesting the Conway School Board’s anti-trans policies, gets a long look today from journalist Judd Legum on his Popular Information Substack. The Times Debra Hale-Shelton wrote about Barnett last week.
You can read the highlights in Legum’s thread here:
1. Alex Barnett, a college student, was sentenced to 10 DAYS IN JAIL for participating in a peaceful protest of anti-trans policies imposed by an Arkansas school board.
The school board would not allow public comment, so Barnett chanted “Trans lives matter!”
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 1, 2023
Legum interviewed Barnett:
In an interview with Popular Information, Barnett said he learned about the issues with the Conway School Board when he saw videos of the October meeting circulating on social media. He felt compelled to take action. “Ultimately, when I’m fighting for trans rights, I’m also fighting for my own rights,” Barnett said. “If you don’t show up for… people who are marginalized, the people who are facing the most severe oppression from the government, if you don’t show up to help them, then you’re screwed whenever they come for you.”
And he digs into the record of District Judge Chris Carnahan, who imposed the harsh penalty on Barnett:
Carnahan is the former executive director of the Arkansas Republican Party. During his unsuccessful run for the Arkansas Supreme Court, he used the slogan: “Finally, a conservative judge!” Carnahan collected tens of thousands of dollars from Republican Party committees, even though the races are non-partisan and such contributions violate the Arkansas Judicial Code of Conduct. Carnahan said he was ignoring the rule because he believed it was unconstitutional.
Carnahan posted “Let’s go Brandon!” code for a profane insult targeting President Joe Biden, and a tribute to Rush Limbaugh on his public Facebook page. On his campaign website, Carnahan touts that he is “a member of Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association” and “follower of Christ.” Among the groups Carnahan likes on Facebook is the Family Council Action Committee, the Arkansas affiliate of Focus on the Family, a notorious anti-LGBTQ advocacy organization.
During his campaign, Carnahan claimed to support “amnesty and community service instead of fines” for non-violent offenses. He said that defendants in his courtroom “convicted of theft or other misdemeanors” are likely “to find themselves sentenced to get their GED.” But Carnahan apparently believes that Barnett’s non-violent protest supporting trans people deserved a much harsher penalty.