Yankees sued over fan ejection during ‘God Bless America’
A baseball fan who says he was ejected from Yankee Stadium after he left his seat to use the bathroom while “God Bless America” was playing sued the New York Yankees and the city Wednesday.
Bradford Campeau-Laurion says in his federal lawsuit that his rights were violated at an Aug. 26 game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox when he tried to pass a police officer, who was being paid by the Yankees to work at the Bronx stadium.
The lawsuit said the officer did not let him take a step before grabbing his right arm and twisting it behind him. It said two officers marched him down several ramps to an exit, where he was pushed out as one officer told him to leave the country if he didn’t like it.
Campeau-Laurion, a director of Web productions for a media company, does not participate in religious services and objects to being required to do so, the lawsuit said. He is proud to be an American but objects to being required to participate in displays of patriotism, it added.
“God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin in 1918, was played at big league ballparks throughout the country when baseball resumed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was discontinued in some cities in following seasons but remained a fixture at Yankees games, at which security personnel and ushers use chains to block off some exits while it’s played.
City lawyer Muriel Goode-Trufant said the city hadn’t seen the lawsuit but planned to review it thoroughly. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a ruling that the city and the Yankees acted unconstitutionally.
Police spokesman Paul J. Browne said officers ejected Campeau-Laurion, 30, after they “observed a male cursing, using inappropriate language and acting in a disorderly manner while reeking of alcohol.”
He said the officers “decided to eject him rather than subject others to his offensive behavior.”
The lawsuit said Campeau-Laurion, who lives in Queens, and a friend “enjoyed the game quietly,” though there were rowdy young men seated a few rows away.
A Yankees spokeswoman, Alice McGillion, said the team had no comment.
Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said it was a “troubling example of compelled patriotism” to force fans to remain in the stands for the playing of the song.
“It’s patriotism being imposed on people on a mass scale,” he said. “It’s the first person we know of who’s actually been physically thrown out of Yankee Stadium, but we certainly know of many other people who have expressed concern about the policy.”