SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, First Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to military leaders, asking them to apologize for assaulting Oscar Rodriguez, a decorated Air Force veteran with over thirty years of military service, and kicking him off Travis Air Force Base for giving a speech that included the word “God.”
Air Force Master Sergeant Charles Roberson heard Rodriguez deliver a patriotic flag-folding speech at a retirement ceremony and asked Rodriguez to give the same speech at Roberson’s retirement ceremony on April 3, held at Travis Air Force Base. “I saw Oscar perform the speech live just one month prior to my own retirement ceremony and I really wanted him to be able to perform that same way at my ceremony,” said MSgt Roberson.
Rodriguez agreed to Roberson’s request, but when he began the patriotic flag-folding speech at the retirement ceremony, multiple uniformed Airmen assaulted and forcibly removed Rodriguez because his speech included the word “God.” After dragging him out of the retirement ceremony, Travis Air Force Base personnel ordered Rodriguez off the base.
“It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life,” says Rodriguez. “I have given more than three decades of service to the military and made many sacrifices for my country. To have the Air Force assault me and drag me out of a retirement ceremony simply because my speech included the word ‘God’ is something I never expected from our military.”
“The Air Force had no right to assault a citizen, much less a 33-year military veteran, because they didn’t want him to mention ‘God,’” says Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute. “Mr. Rodriguez has a constitutional right to free speech and religious expression, even on a military base. The military broke the law and abused its power. We expect the Air Force to hold those responsible accountable, and allow Mr. Rodriguez to continue honoring the flag and other veterans who have sacrificed for our country.”
First Liberty Institute attorneys asked the Air Force to respond by June 27 or else they will be prepared to “pursue all available legal options.”
Read more about the case at FirstLiberty.org/Rodriguez
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.