January 7 2010, 9:51 AM
Back in late 2008, as Michelle Obama swept through Colorado, a few news organizations, such as the Columbine Courier, reported about the state of democratic participation in Jefferson County. There had been a crackdown against Dakota Ridge High School student Blake Benson, who taped a "NOBAMA" sticker across the front of his shirt. When he refused to leave the front of the school gym, where Obama supporters gathered to hear Michelle Obama speak, he was searched, then subsequently arrested and charged with interference. Now Benson, who was a John McCain supporter, has been vindicated, reaping $4,000 in the settlement of a civil lawsuit against the county sheriff's office and its school district. "What my teachers taught me about our constitutional rights wasn't respected outside the classroom," Benson says in a statement (via 7News). "If one thing comes from this case, I hope it is that other students will learn more about their free speech rights and not be afraid to use them." In May, Jefferson County officials backed off the criminal charges, according to The Denver Post. Who helped Benson pull it off? The American Civil Liberties Union, that legal organization conservatives often portray as "a bunch of dangerous lefties," Westword notes.