NORTH PORT — A dust-up at the North Port AMVETS Post 312 has social media buzzing.
The issue is over a “Make America Great Again” ballcap, President Donald Trump’s signature election slogan. The offender under the hat was asked to exit the post after arguing with others. Campaigning or names of candidates can’t go on hats or clothing at the post, certainly in election cycles, its commander said.
Alcohol may have been at play in the man’s behavior, the commander said.
It happened Sunday. Social media went bonkers, Post 312 taking a hard hit for tossing the patron.
But the post commander said there are dress and conduct rules in place. They really got enforced after a brawl, pre-COVID-19: Two men had punched it out over the presumptive Trump versus Biden 2020 race.
Post 312’s policy is no politics, especially not on your head, commander William Pitts II said.
The dress code, in fact, “is posted at the doors, front and back,” Pitts said. “He told me ‘(Trump) is my commander in chief,’ and I said he’s mine, too.”
The president’s MAGA hat has ruffled plenty of feathers. The actor Jussie Smollett, for instance, alleged a hate crime, reporting the attackers in MAGA hats. His narrative proved false. And the MAGA hat has been in the middle of other disputes.
AMVETS Post 312’s entry into the rotation started with the Trump/Biden brawl. Pitts decided once was enough. But enforcement was delayed by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Post 312 first opened on Biscayne Boulevard near Tamiami Trail, but outgrew that place and moved to its new spot on Chancellor Boulevard. The new Post 312 opened in February 2007, worlds away from bustling southwest Florida.
The unnamed man in the MAGA hat, Pitts was told, had had a couple of cold ones. An argument over the hat erupted, and he was “asked to read the (rules) board and quiet down.” Eventually he got bounced.
Miles Migliara with the national AMVETS organization said posts have rules on bringing politics and religion inside the buildings.
“(You) wish people would respect that,” he said.
AMVETS in its bylaws describes itself as an “organization to encourage fellowship among all American veterans” and that “all members, special guests, active military and anyone visiting the post must be in proper attire.”