Via federal court consent decree, the city of Jackson, Mississippi, has agreed to stop obstructing the rights of peaceful pro-life protesters gathered outside the state’s last remaining abortion center, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The consent decree states that the Jackson Police Department will not interfere with anyone holding signs, speaking, or preaching on public sidewalks. The City will also cease interfering with people sitting on chairs or resting signs on sidewalks.
Pro-Life Mississippi, a group that protests outside Jackson Women’s Health, claims that the Jackson Police Department has repeatedly interfered with pro-lifers’ right to free speech through “discriminatory and unconstitutional enforcement of Mississippi statutes.” In 2014, Pro-Life Mississippi filed a complaint against the City of Jackson, as well as several officers of the Jackson Police Department, alleging incidents of harassment including unjust arrest of protesters, and officers challenging protesters’ right to rest their signs on the sidewalk.
Jackson Free Press reports that the consent decree will stand for one year, after which time the court will review it and could potentially take further action if the City does not adhere to the terms of the agreement.
The facility is run by Diane Derzis, who formerly owned a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, which was closed due to extensive health code violations after three patients were hospitalized in the same day. Derzis has claimed she believes she is carrying out the will of God through her abortion work.