by Steven Ertelt
February 24, 2008
Cypress, CA (LifeNews.com) — Cypress College in California has been accused of squelching the free speech of a pro-life group for the third time. Survivors, a pro-life group for young adults, tells LifeNews.com college officials banished its members to "free speech" zones hidden from public view.
When they arrived on campus, members of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust quietly held signs, distributed literature and dialogued with students about abortion.
However, because they refused to be confined to an area far away from most students, they were arrested for failing to leave private property supposedly not open to the general public.
Kortney Blythe, a Survivors spokeswoman, said, "How educated police officers and college administration can claim that a public school is private property is beyond me."
"Then they make a mockery of free speech by providing inadequate ‘zones’ in which they allow First Amendment rights to occur," she added.
The group told LifeNews.com that, out of the two "free speech zones" offered, one consisted of two 3′ x 6′ rectangles labeled "free speech" while the other measured 10′ x 20′ and was a lowered area behind concrete tables and off the pedestrian path.
This isn’t the first time the group has encountered problems at Cypress College.
Last year, Blythe and her team were arrested for criminal trespass but the Orange County District Attorney’s Office dismissed all charges against the pro-life advocates.
The presiding judge went one step further and declared the team "factually innocent" and ordered that the record of the arrest be erased from the Department of Justice criminal records database.
A civil lawsuit is currently pending against Cypress College for the 2007 arrest.
Life Legal Defense Foundation attorney Allison Aranda has gotten involved in the case and she told LifeNews.com that more must be done to get Cypress officials to understand that free speech can’t be limited.
"We must do something to prevent college administrators and officials from blatantly violating the Constitutional rights of young people on public school campuses simply because the administration disagrees with the message these young people speak," she said.
Aranda is hopeful the district attorney’s office will drop the charges against the pro-life advocates.
"It is clear from the facts of both cases that the sole objective of the Cypress College administration is to silence the pro-life message being shared on their campus," Aranda added.
She urged pro-life advocates to make it clear to officials at other colleges and universities that stopping free speech rights is not allowed.
During the arrests, Blythe said Cypress campus police indecently frisked three of the pro-life women and placed them in the back of squad cars for an hour before charging them with a crime.
ACTION: Contact Cypress College president Michael J. Kasler at (714) 484-7308 or email [email protected].