TRI in the News


Civil Rights Group Defends Ruckersville Veteran


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November 24, 2008

From NBC 29
Original article available here.


A civil rights group based out of Charlottesville is coming to the aid of a Ruckersville war veteran.

The Rutherford Institute recently filed suit against the National Park Service, claiming that National Mall police in Washington D.C. violated the Vietnam Vet John Miska's constitutional rights. Miska says on more than one occasion, while handing out "buddy poppies" in Washington D.C., he was harassed by police and forced to stop.

The small red flower represents appreciation for the military. "When you see a poppy or someone has it one their lapel it shows someone has taken the time to think about veterans and supports the issue, it's a show of support for veterans," Miska said.

Miska is a commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. When talking about the police at the National Mall, Miska said, "(Police) basicly told me that I needed to have a permit, that I couldn't be selling the poppies and that I couldn't be handing them out."

Miska says the National Park Service is infringing on his rights as an American. The Rutherford Institute's John Whitehead agrees. "It's a classic free speech case," Whitehead said.

Whitehead says the District of Columbia does have a law against aggressively soliciting money from patrons, but Miska says that's not what he's doing. "The thing about John Miska is that he does know what's in the First Amendment, he knows he has a right to be out there.

NBC29 contacted the National Park Service about the lawsuit; its attorney said he didn't know about the case yet, so he had no comment.