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In “Battle of the Badges,” the Milwaukee Police Department takes on the Milwaukee Fire Department in a hockey game to benefit those with autism. “It’s always a competitive game, and as long as it’s competitive it’s fun,” Milwaukee police detective Kevin Armbruster said.
This event is the big kick-off to Autism Awareness Month.
A Kutztown [Pennsylvania] University police officer who was suspended when he refused to arrest a Christian group proselytizing on campus is now suing University administration officials.
Police Cpl. Steven Armbruster says he was unjustly relieved of duties during the 2007 incident for failing to obey a direct order that he says would have violated the free speech rights of the group, known as Repent America.
Repent America, which preaches against abortion and homosexuality, came onto the public campus on April 18, 2007 during Kutztown’s “day of silence” for homosexual hate crimes awareness. A confrontation ensued when a crowd of students angrily ganged up on the group.
University officers eventually kicked out the group, which claims they had done nothing illegal. The officers also arrested and charged some members with disorderly conduct. The case was later thrown out of court.
Armbruster, a law enforcement veteran of 17 years, says he was suspended for five days without pay and a disciplinary letter was put in his file because he refused to threaten the members with arrest. He says the group was not acting disorderly, and was within their free speech rights to spread their message on the public campus.
Since the suspension, Armbruster says he has been assigned ”menial” assignments, while officers with less seniority are given more significant jobs, as well as a low performance evaluation.
He is suing for an unspecified amount of damages for declaratory relief, attorney fees and lost wages. The suit names as defendants the University president, the University police Chief, and the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
“Police officers who understand and respect the constitutional rights of American citizens should be commended, not punished,” said Randall L. Wenger, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund and Armbruster’s lawyer.
“Corporal Armbruster honored his conscience as a Christian and his duty as a civil servant to protect – not violate – these citizens’ free speech rights. He knew that he was being asked to punish the wrong party in the situation.”
Repent America director Michael A. Marcavage said he’s grateful for the suit.
“Instead of the police affirming our rights to be there, they violated our rights,” Marcavage said. “All that we want to do when we go to the college campuses is be free to speak with the students and spread our message.”