California Air Force Base Forcibly Removed Veteran Over His Speech About God?
Retired Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez was asked to speak at his friend’s flag folding ceremony two years ago. The ceremony was for a fellow master sergeant from the 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and considered a personal event. Meaning, that speeches given of the religious nature are at the discretion of the person being honored.
It’s important to mention that because the specific speech was requested by Master Sgt. Chuck Roberson because it reflected his values and it was, after all, his ceremony. That means there shouldn’t have been an issue, right? Wrong.
Members at Travis Air Force Base in California forcibly removed Rodriguez, reportedly because his speech contained the word ‘God’ about six times. Rodriguez was then banned from the base and sought legal assistance to protect his rights. Take a look.
According to Fox News on Monday, two years after the incident, Rodriguez sued the U.S. Air Force, demanding an apology and admission of wrongdoing. In an interview with Fox News, he claimed his First Amendment rights were violated.
“This is about my constitutional right,” Rodriguez said of the suit.
“I was removed from the speech because my script mentioned God. Air force officials did not want me to utter those words,” he told Fox News. “There was no direct communication between the Air Force and myself to forbid me from making this speech.”
The U.S. Air Force declined to comment Monday on pending litigation. In a statement released last year, officials said, “Evidence indicated Mr. Rodriguez was removed by members of the squadron because he attempted to participate in the ceremony even though his participation had been disapproved by the hosting squadron commander…
When it became clear that Mr. Rodriguez intended to act inconsistently with the commander’s restrictions he was removed by several squadron NCOs (noncommissioned officers). The inquiry found no evidence that the NCOs were motivated to impair Mr. Rodriguez’s constitutional rights of freedom of speech or religion.”
At the time of the event, a spokeswoman from the reserve told Fox News the confrontation stemmed from “an unplanned participation” at the event.
“[The U.S. Air Force] did not have the authority to ban him from the base and they did not have the authority to ban him from participating in the ceremony,” said Hiram Sasser, general counsel for First Liberty Institute and one of the lead attorneys in the case. First Liberty identifies itself as a legal team “dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty for all Americans,” Rodriguez’s lawyer explained Monday during the Fox News exclusive.