LAWRENCE — A 47-year-old firefighter is accused of assaulting a man at a marching band performance because the man didn't take off his hat during the playing of the national anthem.
Bob Mandell of Lawrence said firefighter Daniel Clouse confronted him when the song was played during last week's performance at Free State High School. During a brief conversation, Mandell said Clouse grabbed him by the back of the neck and then pushed him when they finished talking.
"He grabbed me by the neck and shook me," Mandell, 46, said. "He put his hand around the back of my neck and pressed on the left-hand side with his right thumb. The spot still hurts."
Clouse, who works for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, said he didn't do anything wrong and that he simply put his hand on Clouse's back to get his attention during a 30-second conversation.
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"What I said was, 'Excuse me, sir, around here when the national anthem plays, you remove your hat. Show some respect.
"I didn't smack him. I didn't hit him at all," Clouse said.
Police were called and Clouse was arrested and cited for battery. He has been ordered to appear in court Sept. 1, said Lawrence police spokesman Sgt. Matt Sarna.
Mandell said he had his hand over his heart during the anthem and simply forgot to remove his hat. He said he apologized to Clouse.
"I wasn't doing it out of not being patriotic," Mandell said. "But if I did, then what he did is actually directly counter to our rights and freedoms."