A U.S. District Court in California has declared 75-year-old veteran Robert Rosebrock not guilty of violating federal law in a prosecution for allegedly displaying two four-by-six inch American flags above a Veterans Affairs fence on Memorial Day 2016. Rosebrock had been charged with hanging the two napkin-sized American flags on a section of the fence adjacent to the entrance to the VA facility in violation of a VA regulation prohibiting the displaying of “placards” or posting “materials” on VA property without authorization.
The court found that the VA failed to meet its burden of proving that Rosebrock lacked permission to post the flags or even that he was the person who displayed them. The VA’s case apparently fell apart when the court concluded that the VA violated Rosebrock’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
According to Judicial Watch, which successfully defended Rosebrock, the court also dismissed before trial two separate charges that Rosebrock illegally photographed VA police on the ground. It ruled that the VA regulation at issue was not reasonable even under the most lenient First Amendment standard.
Appearing on Fox and Friends, Rosebrock explained, “I just wanted to display [the flag] in honor of all the veterans who have served our country over the last 240 years and also in honor of veterans who are inside that VA trying to heal from defending the American flag.” He added that for years he and other veterans have placed flags on a fence near the entrance to the facility to draw attention to the VA’s mistreatment of homeless vets.
On Memorial Day 2016, a VA police officer issued him a citation for placing the two napkin-sized flags on the fence. He ended up in federal court for his patriotic gesture. Had Rosebrock been convicted, he faced up to six months of imprisonment.
It blows my mind that Rosebrock would be prosecuted for what he was charged with doing. Perhaps it also blew the mind of Steve Kim, the U.S. Magistrate Judge who heard the case. In any event, Judge Kim tossed the case, and we should all be happy that he did.
As Judicial Watch said in announcing its legal victory:
Now that the court has rightly dismissed the government’s outrageous charge against Mr. Rosebrock, we hope that he and his fellow patriots will be allowed to honor the flag and commemorate their fellow veterans, as they deem appropriate. This should never have gone this far, and we are pleased that Judicial Watch was able to step in and help Mr. Rosebrock.