Christian Smith, a 19-year-old Carlow University student, was suspended and arrested after he showed up to class dressed as the Batman character "The Joker."
Smith now faces charges of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, terroristic threats and disorderly conduct.
Police received multiple calls about a man in a hoodie with face paint around 11 a.m. on Sept. 27, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. When police arrived at the Carlow campus in Pittsburgh, they entered Smith's classroom and asked the student for his ID. Police left the classroom, then returned and asked him to remove the makeup.
KDKA reports that Smith became agitated and aggressive when police approached him:
Smith says he wore the makeup to class because he was taking his girlfriend to a comic book convention. A school employee saw the get-up and called police.
According to police reports, Smith was “agitated” when officers arrived, and said, “the police are picking on me because I’m black.”
Smith claimed he did not have to take the makeup off because women in the class were also wearing it, WPXI reports.
Police then arrested Smith, removing him from class, and later brought him to a hospital for an evaluation. Smith has now been suspended from the university.
"This is clearly a First Amendment speech issue and he wasn't harming anybody nor was he harming himself," Smith's attorney, Phillip DiLucente, told the Post-Gazette.
According to WPXI, Smith and his attorney are trying to get the charges dropped and considering a lawsuit against the university.
Carlow spokesman Andrew Wilson told local media the university is "confident in the actions of university police in protecting the rights and privileges of the student involved, and ensuring the safety of its students and the campus community."