The NYCLU has joined a lawsuit against the New York Yankees and the NYPD after a man was arrested for making a trip to the bathroom during a post-September 11th stadium tradition. NY1's Lily Jamali filed the following report.
It was the seventh inning stretch of a Yankees, Red Sox game late last summer. Bradford Campeau-Laurion says God Bless America was playing, as it has during that point in the game ever since the September 11th attacks.
He decided to use the restroom, but says he was stopped by a uniformed police officer acting as security.
"I simply stated look, I don't care about God Bless America. I just need to use the restroom. No sooner did these words leave my mouth then this officer grabbed me, apprehended me, twisted my arm behind my back, motioned for a second officer who grabbed me, twisted my second arm behind my back and the two proceeded to escort me out in a very undignified fashion," said Campeau-Laurion.
Campeau-Laurion admits that what he did might have been politically incorrect, but it wasn't illegal.
"I was there to attend a baseball game. The playing of God Bless America is a very meaningful thing for some people but at the end of the day, we're there to see a baseball game and it should be my choice whether or not I participate in such a game," said Campeau-Laurion.
The NYCLU says it is Yankees policy to restrict fan movement during God Bless America.
The police were acting as part of the NYPD's "paid detail" program, where officers dress in NYPD uniform and moonlight as security for a private entity.
The group claims NYPD officers are enforcing a policy that's unconstitutional because it forces people into a patriotic and religious act.
The NYCLU is suing the NYPD, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the Yankees on behalf of Campeau-Laurion.
"They're enforcing Yankee policy but they're doing it as New York City police officers paid by a private entity. Even though the Yankees are paying for it, they are there as police officers," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU.
The Yankees did not return NY1's request for comment on whether this is, in fact, a team policy.
Meanwhile, the NYPD painted a different picture of the encounter between Campeau-Laurion and its officers. In a statement, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said, "The officers observed a male cursing, using inappropriate language and acting in a disorderly manner while reeking of alcohol and decided to eject him rather than subject others to his offensive behavior."
Campeau-Laurion admits he had two beers but was not drunk. And while a Red Sox fan, he says prior to his run-in with the police, he was enjoying himself at Yankee Stadium.
Campeau-Laurion adds that despite this alleged incident, he still plans on going to games at the new stadium.