CORRECTION, 8/4/20: While Live Action News and other media sources previously reported that Students for Life had permit to paint on the street, it now appears that this reporting was in error. An SFLA staff member told Live Action News that the group had a permit to assemble but had received additional verbal permission from the police department to paint with temporary paint. SFLA said that both the group’s letter to the mayor and its permit application made clear their intention to paint.
Fox News reported late yesterday:
Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is pushing back on the way Students for Life of America (SFLA) has described events leading up to the arrest of two of its activists outside of a local Planned Parenthood facility over the weekend.
SFLA said it applied for an event permit that included a request to paint “Black Preborn Lives Matter” on the street outside of Planned Parenthood Whitehill Moses Center. The organization claims that MPD granted them a permit to gather at Planned Parenthood and, in a separate conversation, verbally told them they would not be prevented from painting their message on the street.
MPD public affairs specialist Alaina Gertz told Fox News that the department “did not issue a permit to put a message on the street. MPD issues permits to assemble.” Gertz added that the permit SFLA received explicitly stated that “marking or painting the street is not permitted.”
When SFLA members showed up to their permitted gathering, they were told verbally that they could neither paint with the temporary paint, nor use even sidewalk chalk to write messages. Despite this, members chose to write with chalk and were then arrested by D.C. police.
The group intends to defend its First Amendment rights. SFLA president Kristan Hawkins said in a statement:
With these threats D.C. Mayor Muriel Bower has made her motives clear as she apparently only thinks that SOME Black Lives Matter and that only SOME slogans are allowed to be painted on streets… and she will be hearing from Students for Life’s attorneys about these unconstitutional efforts to limit speech to government-approved topics.
8/1/20: Despite obtaining permits to paint a pro-life message on the street in front of a Planned Parenthood business in Washington, D.C., pro-lifers with Students for Life of America and the Frederick Douglass Foundation were arrested on Saturday without spraying even a drop of paint.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the painting of “Black Lives Matter” in the city in June and went on to allow citizens to paint “Defund the Police” there as well, using permanent paint. But according to Students for Life of America, after receiving a permit to paint “Black Preborn Lives Matter” on the street, the group arrived to find six police cars waiting for their planned 10 a.m. arrival in front of Planned Parenthood. They had planned to use temporary paint that would wash off as the police suggested, but were told they could not use it after all. When they asked if they could use sidewalk chalk, the police told them they would face arrest if they did.
A college student and a staff member of Students for Life did kneel to use the sidewalk chalk and the D.C. police arrested them.
“With these threats and arrests, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has made her motives clear as she apparently only thinks that SOME Black Lives Matter and that only SOME slogans are allowed to be painted on streets,” wrote Students for Life.
It's a sad day in America when human rights advocates are hauled away in handcuffs for writing "black preborn lives matter" in chalk on a sidewalk,
While killers 20 yards away at @PPFA are slaughtering innocent babies with impunity & applause
— Live Action (@LiveAction) August 1, 2020
“She is wrong. Not only has she bought into the eugenic and racist lies that Planned Parenthood sells and what their political contributions guarantees that what goes on inside of Planned Parenthoods each and every day is anything but violence and racism, but she has bought into the lies that only some people have freedom of speech and expression in America….”
Two Students For Life activists got arrested for painting "Black Preborn Lives Matter" on a public sidewalk.
Students For Life VP Tina Whittington says the group will be suing DC Mayor Bowser for "violating our 1st Amendment rights." pic.twitter.com/qB0E4PvPca
— MRCTV (@mrctv) August 1, 2020
Though the D.C. event had to be canceled, Students for Life has other similar events happening around the nation today. The group plans to sue the city of Washington, D.C., over the arrests for violating their First Amendment right to free speech and expression.
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