Student suspended from Oregon's Liberty High for wearing border wall t-shirt sues

People look at prototypes of a border wall Thursday in San Diego. Contractors have completed eight prototypes of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico, triggering a period of rigorous testing to determine if they can repel sledgehammers, torches, pickaxes and battery-operated tools. [AP Photo/Elliott Spagat]

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon student suspended for wearing a "Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co." T-shirt has sued his school, claiming the punishment violated his right to free speech.

According to a complaint filed May 18 in Oregon District Court, Addison Barnes wore the shirt to a Liberty High School class where a discussion of immigration was scheduled. The shirt also featured the words, "The wall just got 10 feet taller," a reference to a 2016 remark by President Donald Trump.

Building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was a campaign promise from Trump.

School officials eventually told Barnes to cover the shirt or go home, according to the complaint.

Liberty High School officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday, nor did Barnes' lawyers.

In the suit, the student claims the school's vice principal took him out of the class and told him to cover the shirt, saying "at least one other student and a teacher claimed the shirt offended them."

The student said he complied, but during the class decided "he believed that the First Amendment protected his right to peacefully express his political views in school" and once again displayed his shirt. The lawsuit claims a school security guard removed him from the class and he was "threatened with suspension for 'defiance.'"

He was told he could cover the shirt or go home, and he chose the latter. School officials treated his absence as a suspension.

Officials at Liberty High School, about 40 minutes outside of Portland, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

The case's subject matter isn't its only political facet: One of Barnes' lawyers, Mike McLane, is also the leader of the Republican minority in Oregon's House of Representatives.

McLane did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

The Liberty High School student handbook, posted on the school's website, includes a rule that "only appropriate sayings or pictures are acceptable" on students' clothes, but mentions no specifics.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press

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