Court rules in favor of 75-year-old veteran and against VA

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Since 2008, Robert Rosebrock, 75, and a group of fellow veterans have assembled weekly (and on Memorial Day) at the entrance to a West Los Angeles Veteran’s Affairs (VA) facility to protest the VA’s failure to make full use of the property to benefit veterans, especially homeless veterans.

The Obama administration arrested Rosebrock when he hung a pair of “four-by-six-inch American flags” on a fence that is part of “Great Lawn Gate,” marking the entrance to the Los Angeles National Veterans Park on Memorial Day in 2016. He was also criminally charged for taking pictures of VA police without their permission as they removed his innocent flags.

According to Judicial Watch, a California U.S. District Court ruled last Friday that “Rosebrock cannot be prosecuted for taking photographs at the ‘Great Lawn Gate’ entrance to the Los Angeles National Veterans Park. The court also ruled, however, that Rosebrock must stand trial on Tuesday, April 18, for purportedly displaying two four-by-six-inch American flags above a Veterans Affairs fence on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016.”

“In rejecting the VA photography charges, U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim ruled that the regulation, as applied to the Great Lawn, was not reasonable under even the most lenient First Amendment standard. The VA attempted to justify its regulation as necessary to guard against invasive and distracting media activities and protect veterans’ privacy. The court rejected that claim, finding that if the VA wanted to protect veterans’ privacy, it would ban all photography, not just photography for news, commercial, or advertising purposes,” according to court documents.

In addition, the reasons given by the VA for banning news photography on the Great Lawn were found to be inconsistent with the numerous non-veteran and non-therapeutic uses of the lawn allowed by the VA, including using it in the past for the L.A. Marathon, the San Francisco-Los Angeles Lifecycle cycling tour and fundraiser, celebrity carnivals/fundraisers, and parking for a PGA tournament.

The court has given the VA the opportunity to drop the charges against Rosebrock before a trial that is set for Tuesday regarding the flag-hanging, but if they don’t, the court will dismiss them.

Rosebrock faces up to six months’ imprisonment if found guilty on the flag-hanging charge.

“Now that the court has seen fit to dismiss the dubious photography charges against Mr. Rosebrock, we hope that it will follow suit and acquit him of the vindictive flag-hanging charge, as well,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “And we still hold out hope that Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice will halt this absurd prosecution. No public good can be served by prosecuting a 75-year-old veteran over posting the American Flag at the entrance to a park honoring veterans on Memorial Day.”

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