Man Arrested After Complaining About Anti-Gay Shirt Decision

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013  |  Updated 1:10 PM EDT
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Man Arrested After Complaining About Anti-Gay Shirt Decision

Police have charged a 68-year-old Torrington man with breach of peace and criminal trespass after he caused disturbances at two schools to  complain about a decision to allow a student to wear a T-shirt with an anti-gay message to school, according to police.

Wolcott schools, under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, decided to allow a senior at Wolcott High School to wear a T-shirt with a slash through the rainbow after the ACLU threatened to sue.

Derrell Rice, 68, of Torrington, took issue with the decision, according to police, and went to the school to complain.

But, first he lodged the complaint in Plymouth.

Rice, who school officials described as an elderly, well-dressed gentleman, drove to the Plymouth Center School on North Street on Wednesday morning and rang the buzzer to be let in, Plymouth police told Wolcott Police.

When school officials questioned him through the intercom, the man said he was there to register his granddaughter for school, so school staff met him at the door.

But, the man, later identified as Rice, began to express his displeasure with the school department allowing an anti-gay shirt to be allowed in school, according to police.

School officials told Rice that the shirt incident happened in Wolcott and not Plymouth.
They said Rice was upset, loud and causing annoyance and alarm, so the school officials called Plymouth Police and Rice drove away, according to police.

At 10 a.m., Wolcott Police received a call from the Plymouth Police about the incident, so they notified the Wolcott School Department to be on the look-out for Rice.

Soon after, Wolcott school officials called police and said a man who met Rice’s description was there and wanted to be let in. When police responded, they found Rice ringing the buzzer to be let in, police said.

When police asked Rice why he was there, he said he wanted to speak to the superintendent of schools because he did not agree with his allowing a shirt with an anti-gay message to be worn, according to police.

Supt. Joseph Macary met with Rice and told him he understood his concerns and that the decision to allow the shirt was based on the First Amendment, as well as school policy, police said.

Macary then told Rice that he is not allowed on any Wolcott School property and could leave because the conversation was over.

But Rice refused to leave and said he was going to the high school to tell everyone what was going on, police said.

Rice was charged with breach of peace and first-degree criminal trespass because he caused annoyance and alarm and refused to leave school, according to police.

Plymouth police also charged Rice with breach of peace.

Bond was set at $1,000.  

NBC Connecticut was not able to find a phone number for Rice.
 

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