A 75-year-old Army veteran who faced criminal prosecution for displaying the American flag atop a Veterans Affairs fence in 2016 was acquitted earlier this week by a U.S. District Court in California.
Almost a year after federal charges were filed by the Obama Justice Department, Robert Rosebrock on Tuesday was found not guilty of violating a 1973 VA statute prohibiting the display of “placards” on department property without authorization from the facility head.
The veteran had been cited on Memorial Day 2016 by a VA police officer after he placed two four-by-six-inch American flags on the fence outside the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs (GLAVA) facility during a protest of the VA’s treatment of homeless veterans.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim ruled that the government failed to show evidence that Rosebrock was told he was not permitted to post the flag and that he physically put the flag on the fence.
But Rosebrock, who faced up to six months in prison, says he would not think twice about doing it again.
“It would be so anti-American not to,” he told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday.
The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System issued a statement to Fox News saying it was “committed to providing our nation’s Veterans the best possible healthcare, and leadership and staff are working hard to make continuous improvements to their care.”
Their priority, the statement said, “remains in promoting an environment where Veterans can receive the quality services they deserve.”
In an April 14 pretrial motion, separate charges related to photographs Rosebrock took of a VA police officer without his permission were dismissed on the grounds that they were “not reasonable under even the most lenient First Amendment standard,” according to a Judicial Watch press release.
Robert Patrick Sticht, lead defense attorney for Rosebrock, told Fox News it remained unclear why the VA decided to begin enforcing the VA statute, or why the Obama and Trump administrations went forward with the case.
Sticht said his co-counsel, Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes, reached out to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request the Trump administration make a “fresh assessment” of the charges, but did not receive a response.
“It remains amazing to me that the Justice Department went forward with those charges. It shows they don’t want a spotlight on what they are going at the VA facility in LA,” Sticht told Fox News.
Thom Mrozek, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, says the decision to go forward was made by the local office and was in response to Rosebrock’s actions.
He told Fox News there never was any intention of jailing Rosebrock, but after multiple citations given to him by the VA, “we had to take some kind of action.”
Mrozek said what happens next will be determined by Rosebrock’s actions and how the VA chooses to respond to any future protests.