Yankees Fans Now Free to Move About During “God Bless America”

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Yesterday, the New York Yankees, the NYPD, and the city of New York settled a lawsuit filed against them by Bradford Campeau-Laurion after he was thrown out of Yankee Stadium last year.  Campeau-Laurion said that he had gotten up to go to the bathroom during the seventh-inning stretch, but was prevented from leaving his seat by officers who said fans were not allowed to move around during the playing of the song "God Bless America."  He said he told them why he needed to move around, but that they argued with him and eventually threw him out of the stadium, one of them allegedly saying "Get out of my country."

Although Campeau-Laurion does have a suspiciously French-sounding, hyphenated name, he is apparently from Queens (the one in New York).  On the other hand, according to the New York Post, he is also a Red Sox fan, which might also explain the comment if it was made.  If he was actually wearing Red Sox attire, he is probably lucky the New Yorkers actually took him down to the ground level of the stadium before throwing him out of it.

The NYPD contended that Campeau-Laurion was not ejected because he wasn't being patriotic enough, but because he was drunk and disorderly.  (See "[H]e is also a Red Sox fan," supra.)

In the settlement, the Yankees stipulated that they had no policy or practice of restricting fan movements during "God Bless America," and had no intention of instituting any such policy; and the city agreed to pay the plaintiff $10,001 and to pay his attorneys' fees and costs.  None of the defendants admitted liability.  Plaintiff agreed to dismiss the lawsuit in exchange, likely being reasonably happy with getting ten grand in exchange for being forced to hold it for approximately three minutes.

The New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiff, argued it was a First Amendment issue.  The settlement, said a spokesperson, would ensure that "the new Yankee Stadium will be a place for baseball, not compelled patriotism."

Link: New York Post (Headline: "Wee Change for Yankees")
Link: NBC New York
Link: NYCLU (with links to the stipulation and judgment)