MANHATTAN (CN) – A baseball fan sued the New York Police Department and the Yankees on federal civil rights charges, claiming he was ejected from a ballgame last August for trying to use the rest room while the crowd sang “God Bless America.” Bradford Campeau-Laurion accuses the defendants and political and religious discrimination for restraining him and then booting him from the park. The Yankees were playing the Red Sox in the Aug. 26 game.
Campeau-Laurion says he was peaceably trying to get to the rest room during the seventh-inning stretch, when a cop blocked his path and said he could not leave during the song. Campeau-Laurion, who says he had eaten peanuts and drunk two beers during the game, says the cop assaulted him, twisting his arm behind his back, then marched him out of the park, assisted by another cop, with his arms twisted behind him, though he was not resisting. Campeau-Laurion says one of the cops told him he could leave the country if he didn’t like it.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented Campeau-Laurion, says that after Sept. 11, 2001, all Major League teams began playing the Irving Berlin tune during the seventh-inning stretch. The Yankees also “instituted a policy of seeking to prevent fans from moving during the playing of the song. It did so to promote patriotism amongst those attending Yankees games,” the NYCLU said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
The NYCLU says the policy of enforced patriotism is unconstitutional.