Pro-Life Advocates Fined $5,000 for “Trespassing” on Sidewalk
by Steven Ertelt | Jackson, MS | LifeNews.com | 12/10/12 8:11 PM
A Mississippi judge has dismissed one of the three charges against pro-life advocates Kristina Garza and Brianna Baxter, but found them guilty of trespassing and disorderly contact — for sharing the pro-life message on a public sidewalk.
A freedom of speech drama that began last March outside of Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi, finally made it to court.
Kristina Garza and Brianna Baxter were wrongly arrested outside the public school while peacefully distributing literature promoting the sanctity of life to students leaving school as they passed by on the public sidewalk. The young women got their day in court on Friday. Life Legal Defense Foundation staff counsel, Allison Aranda, is coordinating with local attorneys, James Bell and Caleb Koonce, who are representing Garza and Baxter.
Jackson Public School (JPS) officials originally ordered Garza and Baxter to leave the public sidewalk outside the school, claiming inaccurately that it was private property. Later, JPS officials told the police a different story, claiming that Garza and Baxter engaged in disorderly conduct, Life Legal officials say.
They told LifeNews that witness testimony along with video and photographic evidence will be presented to document the intimidation and threats used against the women by school officials as they engaged in legally protected peaceful free speech activities. The school officers did admit that they attempted to prevent Garza and Baxter from handing out informational leaflets supporting alternatives to abortion.
“This whole fiasco has been a waste of taxpayer resources,” said Dana Cody, Executive Director for Life Legal Defense Foundation. “At no time did Kristina or Brianna violate the law. The real culprits here are the Jackson Public School officials who intimidated and threatened them, thereby abusing their constitutional rights. Kristina and Brianna look forward to their day in court and hope to be vindicated of these baseless charges.”
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The pro-life advocates have already appealed the judge’s decision and will return to the state to share the pro-life message again.