MANHATTAN (CN) – Having attended nearly 100 Major League Baseball games over the course of his life, Bradford Campeau-Laurion said that he expected the Yankees game on August 26, 2008 to be “special” because it would be his last night at the old stadium. But he did not make it to the eighth evening. NYPD officers booted him from the stadium because he took a restroom break while “God Bless America” was playing during the seventh inning stretch, according to his federal complaint.
One officer twisted his right arm behind his back, spun him around and told a colleague “he’s out.” Then, the two of them refused to release his arms as they pushed him from “the highest section of the stadium” down many ramps to the bottom of the stadium.
“The entire trip took somewhere between five and ten minutes,” he recalled, and it aggravated the “tendonitis in one of his knees.”
After pushing him out of the exit, the lawsuit says, the first officer told him to “get out of this country if he didn’t like it.”
The lawsuit says that Major League Baseball executives directed all teams to play the song after the September 11 attacks, but the Yankees franchise kept a stricter policy than most other teams.
Whereas other teams have played the song only on Sunday games and holidays, the lawsuit says, the Yankees played it at all home games and directed the security guards – NYPD cops hired by the team – to restrict fan movement until the end.
“Though he respects the religious activities of others, Mr. Campeau-Laurion does not participate in religious services and objects to being required to do so,” his lawyers say. “Similarly, he is proud to be an American, but he objects to being required to participate in displays of patriotism.”
Represented by Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Campeau-Laurion is suing the Yankees, the NYPD, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the City of New York for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery and violations to First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.