Home / News / “They Wouldn’t Let Me Explain Myself,” 18-Year-Old Student Faces Jail Time For Uploading Rap Parody With His High School in the Title

“They Wouldn’t Let Me Explain Myself,” 18-Year-Old Student Faces Jail Time For Uploading Rap Parody With His High School in the Title

—blogged by @lovelikejhoney

Michael Schmitt, 18, is still reaping the consequences from a freestyle rap he posted to SoundCloud a few months ago.

On February 24, the high school senior uploaded a “violent track” dissing some of his schoolmates and repeatedly screaming “you can suck my d*ck.” One line of the song stated, “Pull my gun, kill your fuckin’ head. Now you’re dead, go to sleep.” Although no one was named in Schmitt’s rap, James Caldwell High School— the school Schmitt attended—was referenced in the title: “u lil sluts @ jchs i love u all even tho yall hurt me and i forgive u. i would never hurt u.” 

After releasing the song, Schmitt promoted it on Twitter and Snapchat with a photo of him pointing a gun at the camera. When his peers saw the tweets many became alarmed. One student thought Schmitt’s track was a possible threat and told her mom, who then notified the school administrators and police in West Caldwell, New Jersey. Soon after, a SWAT team arrived on the campus, where—although school was not in session due to it being a Saturday afternoon—hundreds of people were gathered in the auditorium for a music concert. 

Police searched the campus grounds and found no sign of Schmitt. The school eventually cancelled the concert and evacuated the building. 

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Schmitt was later found at a friend’s house and arrested for creating a “false public alarm,” which carries a 5 to 10-year sentence, and taken to jail in Newark, New Jersey, where he was placed in protective custody, a cell isolated from everyone—most similar to solitary confinement. 

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JCHS school Principal, Jim Devlin, released a statement to Buzzfeed News:

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“A student associated with our school put a violent song on SoundCloud, which references killing somebody — shooting somebody in the head — and posts a picture of him with a gun, and made a connection to girls at our school. Everyone did what they should have done on that day,” Devlin continued. “What we did, I feel 100%, we did because it was necessary. It wasn’t a false alarm. It was what needed to be done to make sure the school was safe.”

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Schmitt’s SoundCloud stunt came only 10 days after the mass high school shooting in Parkland, Florida which resulted in 17 deaths and 17 injuries. Devlin is confident that he and authorities acted promptly, especially since the Parkland shooter, Nikolas Jacob Cruz, showed several signs of danger on his social media before the tragedy took place. 

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Fourteen weeks later, the 18-year-old is under house arrest, facing a potential trial over a rap song that police and school officials took as a serious threat but Schmitt swears was a parody.

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“They painted me as a school shooter, and that’s terrifying,” Schmitt told BuzzFeed News. “Whenever these school shootings are happening, it’s scary to me that I’m being associated with that because of this rap song.” 

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Schmitt insists that he calls everyone, even his male friends “sluts,” doesn’t own a gun and never planned to attack the school.

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Yet Schmitt’s case isn’t a clear-cut example of a troubled youth planning revenge on his classmates. The case raises questions about how administrators and officials determine what counts as a threat and what’s a form of free expression or free speech. Hip-hop artists often rap about killing or robbing banks but the crime is never actually done, let alone are the artists prosecuted for their lyrics. This case has the potential to put Schmitt away for years over what boils down to a profile photo and a short rap song made by a hip-hop admiring white kid in suburban New Jersey.

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“It was like I was guilty the second I posted the song on SoundCloud,” Schmitt said. “They wouldn’t let me explain myself.”

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The high school senior was considered “low-risk” due to no prior criminal record, however, the high school vice principals testified about Schmitt’s disciplinary history at a hearing revealing he had been suspended from JCHS for at least 10 incidents in the past two years. From cutting class to spitting on a classmate, the school records also show Schmitt suspended for testing positive for THC—the active chemical in marijuana. 

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On May 1, the family of a female classmate got a restraining order against Schmitt for “terroristic threats and cyber harassment.” As a result, he is not allowed access on the JCHS campus and has to attend a batterers intervention program once a week. He expects to get his high school diploma from JCHS for completing his tutoring and homeschool assignments.

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“My life is ruined here in this town,” Schmitt said. “I don’t think my life is ruined in general — I don’t. But I feel like here, in this town, I’m done.”

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Even if Schmitt’s case gets dropped, he’ll still have an arrest record. He was fired from his job as a package handler at UPS and has lost contact with several family members. “Everyone in my town thinks I’m crazy,” Schmitt said. 

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Do you think the charges #MichaelSchmitt is facing are just? Where is the line drawn between expressing yourself through music and protecting a community from a possible threat? Comment below.

About MsJennyb

Small town girl from Dirty Jerz.

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One comment

  1. He wanted to appropriate another cultural then he needs to take it all and not just what he thinks is cool. Can someone please tell me how he got a restraining order against him and that didn’t violate his bond? Unless the girl is lying. He’s out here still threatening people!!! He released this 10 days after the Vday shootings, he knew what he was doing. His white privilege had him thinking that all this was okay.

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