by Steven Ertelt
August 31, 2006
Richmond, VA (LifeNews.com) — The city of Richmond, Virginia has found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit from a leading pro-life law firm. The Alliance Defense Fund filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Monday saying the city’s finest wrongly reprimanded two pro-life protesters for being too loud when the city has no noise ordinance in place.
The two abortion protesters filed the lawsuit after repeated threats from local police. They are suing the city’s police chief and one of its officers.
Charles Neal and Paul Trout engaged in peaceful, legal protests exercising their free speech rights on a public sidewalk outside a local abortion business. They were repeatedly threatened by an officer from the Richmond Police Department, according to an ADF statement LifeNews.com received.
Officers with the Richmond police department are allowed to work for private companies in their off hours as security guards and one officer was employed by the abortion facility. On tow occasions, the officer arrested Neal and charged him with disorderly conduct. Both charges were dismissed.
The same officer also issued Trout a citation for violating Richmond’s ordinance against “Creation of Loud and Disturbing Noise." After Trout questioned the definition of “too loud," that charge was dismissed as well.
“Pro-life speech cannot be treated differently than any other kind of speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum.
“The police cannot reprimand speech for being ‘too loud’ when no standard definition of an unacceptable noise level exists," Kellum explained.
“Both Mr. Neal and Mr. Trout acted entirely within the law while speaking out against abortion,” Kellum said. “The officer’s reasoning behind the continual harassment of both men is without merit, as evidenced by the swift dismissal of the charges filed against them.”
ADF filed the lawsuit for the pro-life advocates in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division. The case is Neal v. City of Richmond.
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.telladf.org
Click here to read a copy of the complaint.