A 75-year-old U.S. Army veteran was acquitted last week of criminal charges brought against him for hanging a six-inch American flag on the fence of a Veterans Affairs facility.
Bob Rosebrock was charged with a federal misdemeanor for displaying the flag without permission on the fence of the Greater Los Angeles VA facility during a protest of the VA's treatment of homeless veterans.
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which defended Rosebrock, explained that he "and fellow veterans have been assembling at the site nearly every Sunday and Memorial Day since March 9, 2008, to protest what they believe is the VA's failure to make full use of the valuable West Los Angeles property for the benefit and care of veterans, particularly homeless veterans."
The unauthorized display of "placards" or similar materials on VA property is banned by statute. Rosebrock, who served in the Army from 1965 to 1967, faced up to six months of prison time.
Rosebrock told Fox News last week that he was issued a citation by a VA police officer for placing two small flags on the fence on Memorial Day 2016, leading to an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim of the Central District of California, who found him not guilty.
"I just wanted to display [it], in honor of all the veterans who have served our country over the last 240 years and also in honor of of veterans who are inside that VA trying to heal from defending the American flag," Rosebrock said.
According to Rosebrock's attorney, Robert Sticht, "the government couldn't really make its case" during last Tuesday's trial and struggled to show that his client lacked permission to hang the flag–or even proof that he was the one who did it.
Judicial Watch also said the VA violated Rosebrock's Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate.
This is not the first time Rosebrock has appeared in court over a tussle with the VA about the American flag. He was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in Rosebrock v. Beiter, which centered on the question of whether Rosebrock could legally hang the flag upside-down on the same fence. According to the US Flag Code, hanging the flag "union down" is only acceptable "as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."
Rosebrock won that case too, with a federal court ruling that the VA violated his First Amendment free speech rights.
Rosebrock plans to continue hanging the flag.
"It would be so anti-American not to," he told Fox News. "In the military, we defend that American flag. And if we don't have that freedom, then we don't have America anymore."