Ever few months, the Yankees’ continued playing of “God Bless America” and their enforcement of the song uncomfortably creeps back into the news. We discussed this topic nearly two years when The Times got wind of complaints about the Yanks’ ushers’ behavior during the song, and last year, Bradford Campeau-Laurion made headlines when police ejected him from the stadium for going to the bathroom as the song began.
Yesterday, on the eve of the opening of new Yankee Stadium, Campeau-Laurion and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Yankees, the City of New York and the New York Police Department for their actions during that August 26 game.
The complaint — available here as a PDF and now sitting on the docket of a judge from my alma mater — alleges a variety of Constitutional, federal and state law violations. Campeau-Laurion contends that police aggressively evicted him from the stadium when he got up to the go to the bathroom. The police contended in August — and reiterated to The Times’ Sewell Chan — that Campeau-Laurion was anything but civil.
While the facts focus around that incident, the causes of action focused around the general policies of the Yankees and their use of Paid Detail cops in enforcing it. The complaint alleges First and Fourteenth Amendment violations. Specifically, the NYCLU contends that the Yankees are violating fans’ First Amendment rights by abridging fans’ rights to freedom of religion and freedom of political speech.
The case also claims rough treatment on the part of the cops in violation of Campeau-Laurion’s Fourth Amendment rights. Allegedly, one of the officers, after forcibly ejecting the fan from Yankee Stadium, told him to “get out of the country if he didn’t like ‘it.'”
In addition to compensatory damages, Campeau-Laurion is asking for the the federal court to issue an injunction stopping the Yanks from enforcing their No Movement policy during “God Bless America.” As a law student and Yankee fan, I’ll be following this case. I wonder how the various parties will respond.
And a postscript: If the Cubs’ series is any indication, Kate Smith and “God Bless America” made the trip across 161st St.
A note on comments: I realize this is a politically sensitive topic. I didn’t express my views on here, and I know that Yankee fans will come down on both sides of this issue. Debate the story, but do it respectfully. Don’t attack anyone’s political beliefs. Everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions.