Activism

Students for Life and Frederick Douglass Foundation sue D.C. mayor for discrimination

arrest, pro-life, D.C.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., is facing a lawsuit that alleges the city discriminated against pro-lifers, according to a report from Fox News. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Students for Life of America and the Frederick Douglass Foundation, accuses the city of violating the First Amendment when it applied a defacement ordinance to the pro-life organizations’ members but not to individuals involved with Black Lives Matter.

In August, D.C. police arrested pro-lifers for chalking pro-life messages in front of Planned Parenthood. While SFLA claimed they had been given permission to chalk on the street, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department public affairs specialist Alaina Gertz said the group was not given permission to mark or paint the street, only to assemble. SFLA maintains that it was given verbal permission to use washable paint on the street.

In the lawsuit, SFLA and the Frederick Douglass Foundation state that Bower commissioned a “Black Lives Matter” mural to be painted on a D.C. street by Black Lives Matter, which was painted in permanent paint. The group then added the words “Defund the Police” to the mural. However, police prevented the pro-life groups from using temporary sidewalk chalk to write “Black Preborn Lives Matter.” When they attempted to write the message in chalk on the sidewalk — which is public property — they were arrested. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the groups in the lawsuit and argued that the government should not be picking and choosing which speech is allowed.

READ: D.C. police arrest pro-lifers for chalking pro-life messages in front of Planned Parenthood

“The government can’t discriminate against certain viewpoints by allowing some voices to be heard while silencing others,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves.

“Because of the city’s actions, Frederick Douglass Foundation and Students for Life of American weren’t able to participate in the public square as other groups have. The First Amendment prohibits the government from picking and choosing whose speech to allow.”

According to FoxNews, SFLA successfully challenged the University of Northern Iowa student government in October. The University overturned a ban placed on the pro-life group by the student government, saying that the decision had denied pro-life students “their right to free speech and assembly guaranteed to them by the First Amendment.”

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