An Army review board has sided with a former Colorado Army National Guard officer who was reprimanded by his superiors after writing an opinion piece about his participation in a Black Lives Matter protest.
Capt. Alan Kennedy, now in the U.S. Army Reserves, was in civilian clothes and not on duty when he took part in the May 2020 protest. He also wrote editorials about the protest in Denver media.
The Colorado Army National Guard launched an investigation of the protest and his article.
“Despite the investigator admitting I was not actually suspected of doing anything wrong, I was nonetheless questioned for hours about ‘the march,’ why I protested, who protested with me, why I wrote about it and if there was rioting,” Capt. Kennedy wrote in a piece for the online publication “Colorado Newsline.”
He received a reprimand for taking part in the protest after Colorado Guard officials concluded, despite an investigator’s opinion to the contrary, that violence was “likely to have occurred” at the protest.
Capt. Kennedy was handed another, typically career-ending letter of reprimand after writing a second op-ed piece in the local media about the Guard investigation that had been launched against him. A later investigation ordered by the state’s adjutant concluded that Colorado Guard officials were in error when they reprimanded him.
“It was improper to investigate or reprimand Capt. Kennedy,” the investigator wrote, according to the Army Times, which obtained the documents from a lawsuit filed by Capt. Kennedy.
However, the investigation also concluded the Guard officials were not operating in bad faith at the time, although they had erred by issuing the reprimand.
According to Army Times, the Army Suitability Evaluation Board — which provides service members an opportunity to review adverse military records — later overturned the reprimand and had it expunged from Capt. Kennedy’s personnel file.
When reached by the Army Times, the captain called the decision “a victory for the First Amendment” and the right to protest about racism in the country.
“The Army’s reversal of [the] unconstitutional reprimand vindicated what we have said since May 30, 2020: there is no military exception to the Constitution,” he told them.
• Mike Glenn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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