Vets file lawsuit after allegedly being forced out of War Memorial Veterans Building

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A major veterans organization is suing the city of San Francisco. The legal battle is over a building dedicated in their honor, but the veterans are feeling dishonored.

The American Legion Post are the ones who are suing, with some veterans saying at least 12 veterans groups have been denied space at the War Memorial Veterans Building.

Veterans from many of the nation's wars gathered at the San Francisco Superior Court supporting a lawsuit against the city. "They have basically treated us like the ugly step children," American Legion spokesperson Paul Cox said.

Veterans have been saluted with a beautiful granite memorial and reflecting pools on a site with earth from some of the battlefields. The legal battle is over a building next door called the War Memorial Veterans building, which was recently renovated and just reopened.

While it was dedicated to veterans back in 1932, the lawsuit alleges they are now being pushed out in favor of high society tenants like the opera and other arts organizations. "Every time a veterans entity attempts to put a veteran's service organization into the space, they are met with gating requirements and roadblocks that other organizations that are perhaps more privileged are simply not," attorney Todd Toral said.

The lawyers point out Swords to Plowshares as their example. The non-profit that provides housing and services for homeless and low-income veterans wants free rent at the War Memorial Veterans Building, but the city is maintaining it does not meet the criteria. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he supports Swords to Plowshares but said: "I think that there are chartered mandated objectives that the war memorial is required by law," he said.

The American Legion is the plaintiff challenging the city. "Their community is more interested in helping the arts than they are helping veterans," Cox said.

The case heads back to court the day after Veteran's Day.

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.