US stadium denies God Bless America row

Three teenagers who say they were tossed from a New Jersey ballpark over their refusal to stand during the song God Bless America are suing the minor league team.

The boys argue that their constitutional rights were violated when they were asked to leave Newark’s Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium on June 29 by Bears’ president and co-owner Thomas Cetnar.

Cetnar acknowledged the boys were asked to leave but declined to say why.

He also has denied making some statements attributed to him in the lawsuit.

The boys - Bryce Gadye and Nilkumar Patel, both 17, and Shaan Mohammad Khan, 16 - sued in federal court on Friday seeking unspecified damages.

According to the lawsuit, the boys were seated behind home plate when the song began playing. Once it ended, they say Cetnar approached them yelling.

“Nobody sits during the singing of God Bless America in my stadium,” the lawsuit quotes Cetnar as saying.

“Now the get the (expletive) out of here.”

Cetnar denied saying that: “Never, never did that ever happen.”

Cetnar said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit, but called the boys’ account “a huge fabrication”.

The boys are being represented by Bryce Gadye’s father, Ross, who said the boys weren’t protesting the song and no one asked them to stand.

“The boys weren’t trying to make any political statements, they just didn’t get up,” he said.

“No one gave them an ultimatum. The song was sung, it was finished, then they were thrown out.”

God Bless America, written by Irving Berlin in 1918, was played at big league ballparks throughout the country when baseball resumed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and has remained a fixture at New York Yankees games.

In July, the Yankees and New York City settled a lawsuit with a fan who said he was ejected from Yankee Stadium by police after he left his seat to go to the toilet during the playing of God Bless America.

The city did not admit liability in the settlement, but agreed to give the fan $US10,000 ($A11,600) and pay $US12,000 ($A14,000) in legal fees.

The Yankees changed their policy, and fans at the team’s new stadium are allowed to move freely during the song.

Gadye declined to let his son be interviewed, saying he was concerned about his safety over reaction to the lawsuit, which was first reported in The Star-Ledger of Newark.

“They’ve been getting all kinds of mixed reaction,” he said.

“I think what makes it so horrible is that they were publicly humiliated for exercising a right that was guaranteed to them by the United States Constitution,” Gadye said.

The boys argue that their constitutional rights were violated

Where in the Constitution is it stated you don’t have to stand during the anthem?

It’s not in any of the amendments, that’s for sure.

I thought “The Star-Spangled Banner” was your national anthem, not “God Bless America”. :shrug:

“God Bless America” (GBA) is not America’s anthem; “The Star Spangled Banner” is. I do like GBA better, as it’s easier to sing. I also really like “America the Beautiful” a lot. :slight_smile:

God Bless America is not the anthem, Star spangled Banner is. They shouldn’t have been thrown out. Of course, the camera showing them sitting should have been broadcast over the big screen in the field. If they refused to stand during the national anthem, where I think every citizen should stand, remove any headgear, and face the nearest US flag while standing quietly, then they should have been required to take a civics lesson. An oath taken by naturalized citizens is automatically implied to all native born citizens, when a birth certificate is issued.

Note that the website quote from by the OP is from Australia. I wouldn’t expect them to get all the facts right.


I don’t know that there’s any requirement to stand up for “God Bless America” anymore than for “America the Beautiful” or “Yankee Doodle”.*

If I were in the States, I would naturally stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “Reveille”, and “Taps”; I’d also stand for “Hail to the Chief”, because that signals the entrance of your Head of State, for which one stands.

*Caveat: I would stand if everyone else did, so as not to be inadvertantly rude, unless the song were one I objected to (like the Horst Wessell song or some such).

Yeah, I screwed up.

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