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American Legion: Censoring of Army veteran’s remarks on role of Black slaves was pre-meditated by Hudson event organizers

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 12:28 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The American Legion said the two organizers of a Memorial Day ceremony in Hudson intentionally censored an Army veteran’s speech when he started remarking on a historical event in 1865 involving freed Black slaves. That veteran has since fired back at the organizers during an interview with 19 News.

Department Commander Roger Friend said Hudson’s American Legion Post 464 has been suspended pending permanent closure and Garrison has been forced to resign from his position and membership.

In support of retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter, the city of Hudson released the full text of his speech that was censored during the Memorial Day ceremony.

Lt. Col. Kemter was given the opportunity to re-film his speech, but was unable to do so due to prior traveling commitments.

Instead, he provided a copy of the speech in text form:

Organizers with the American Legion Post 464, turned off Lt. Col. Kemter’s microphone when he started talking about the way freed Black slaves honored fallen soldiers; a story that was included to detail the early history of Memorial Day.

“I was not aware that it was done intentionally until A.J. (Stokes) came up to me after the speech.”

Stokes, who was in charge of the audio, previously told 19 News that the one of the ceremony organizers cut Kemter’s audio after he refused.

“(Garrison) reached over, pulled the turn the volume down on my consul,” Stokes said.

Kemter told 19 News he was disappointed part of his speech was muted.

“The purpose and the intent of the speech was to provide information as to the origin of the first Memorial Day,” he said.

Many others were outraged by this audio incident, including Hudson city leaders.

“These remarks should not have been censored by the American Legion representatives,” the city of Hudson shared on Facebook.

The City offered Kemter the opportunity to refilm his unedited speech, but he declined that offer.

His main message, though, hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, it’s gaining traction across the country.

“My message reached more people than if the microphone had been on,” Kemter said.

The Ohio American Legion condemned the actions of those responsible for turning down the audio, identified as Hudson American Legion Auxiliary President Suchan and American Legion Post 464 adjutant Garrison.

“They knew exactly when to turn the volume down and when to turn it back up. Prior to the event, a copy of the speech was given to Cindy Suchan by Lt. Col., Barnard Kemter, US ARMY (Ret.), of which she then asked him to remove a specific part of the speech regarding a historical event in 1865 in which several newly freed black slaves were among the first to commemorate Memorial Day after the Civil War ended by giving deceased Union soldiers at a Confederate prisoner of war camp an honorable burial and by decorating their graves with flowers and organizing a parade to honor them.”

The American Legion

Censoring Lt. Col. Kemter’s remarks go against the group’s values, the American Legion said in the statement.

The organization, along with state and city officials, spoke out against Suchan and Garrison, with some calling for their resignations.

“This kind of racist censorship has NO place in Hudson!,” Ohio State Rep. Casey Weinstein tweeted.

Hudson condemns American Legion’s choice to turn down veteran’s mic during part of speech about...
Hudson condemns American Legion’s choice to turn down veteran’s mic during part of speech about freed Black slaves(The American Legion - Department of Ohio Facebook Page)

This is a developing story.

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