by Steven Ertelt
November 28, 2007
Atlanta, GA (LifeNews.com) — Officials in Atlanta arrested a pro-life advocate on Thanksgiving weekend who drove around the city in a large truck featuring graphic pictures of babies who died from abortions. Bob Roethlisberger was arrested and jailed on the charge of "Disorderly Conduct" for driving the vehicle near a suburban shopping mall.
Gwinnett County Police Department officers arrested Roethlisberger Saturday after stopping the vehicle and telling him the pictures were "vulgar and obscene."
According to officials with Operation Rescue, the pro-life group that owns the vehicle, officers tore up items in the back of the truck and ordered Roethlisberger to remove the signs from the side of the vehicle.
Officials cited a cited a city provision referring to "the display of obscene and vulgar images visible to persons under age 14."
When he refused, the 44-year-old Missouri resident was arrested and incarcerated for three days before being released on $1,200 bond.
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman told LifeNews.com he is very upset that local police would destroy the group’s property and violate Roethlisberger’s free speech rights.
"Bob fully cooperated with officers, but refused to compromise on his message, which is unequivocally protected by the First Amendment," he said. "The officers misused their authority to punish Bob for expressing a viewpoint that ran counter to theirs. The arrest was nothing less than an egregious abuse of power."
Newman said the pro-life group got the vehicle out of police impound on Monday but indicated officials did thousands of dollars worth of damage to the truck and the banners.
Newman discussed the matter with Major Thomas Bardugon, who refused to drop the charges and threatened to arrest Newman if he drove the truck again with the banners re-attached.
He said the truck was in Georgia to highlight a new state initiative seeking to establish personhood for unborn children in the state.
"We intend to vigorously fight these unjust charges and will seek a remedy for our property loss," said Newman. "We cannot allow the illegal use of police authority to bully us into silence, when such silence could cost innocent human lives."