National

American Legion post shut down after mic cut during speech on Black people’s role in Memorial Day

The Lee-Bishop American Legion, 10001 Aurora Hudson Road in Hudson, Ohio, is shown in May 2019. (Photo Provided/Google Street View)

(CNN) — The American Legion Department of Ohio has suspended the charter of a post in the city of Hudson after a Memorial Day incident in which the keynote speaker’s microphone was turned off during part of his speech that touched on Black people’s historic role in creating the national holiday, the state organization said in a news release.

“The American Legion Department of Ohio does not hold space for members, veterans, or families of veterans who believe that censoring black history is acceptable behavior,” the news release said.

The Legion said upon its demand, an officer for Lee-Bishop Post 464 resigned as a post officer and the American Legion has demanded that he resign his membership altogether. The state organization said it has suspended the post’s charter “pending permanent closure.”

According to the release, an investigation by the American Legion found that the actions taken at the Memorial Day ceremony in Hudson were “pre-meditated and planned.”

The Legion said that organizers “knew exactly when to turn the volume down and when to turn it back up.”

Prior to the event, retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter had given a copy of his speech to the chair of the Memorial Day Parade committee and president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, and she asked Kemter to remove a specific part of the speech regarding Black people’s historical role in the holiday, the Legion said.

The state organization said Kemter did not change his speech.

CNN has reached out for comment from Lee-Bishop Post 464, the post officer who resigned, and the committee chairperson.

The action taken by Post 464 “constitutes a violation of the ideals and purposes of the American Legion,” the news release said.

“We are deeply saddened by this and stand in unity and solidarity with the black community and all peoples of race, color, religion, sex, and gender, so that those who are exclusive of such persons will know that this behavior is not acceptable in The American Legion, in our homes, our hearts, our communities, in private, public, or anywhere,” the Legion added.

State Rep. Casey Weinstein, a Democrat who has called for action from the American Legion Department of Ohio, praised the decision in a tweet, saying the Legion had “handled the racist censorship of Lt. Col. Kemter with the seriousness it deserves. I am proud to accept their invitation to re-up my membership in the Legion as an at-large member of Department HQ Post 888.”

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