Maryland Officials Drop Charges Against Pro-Life Advocates on Abortion Protest
by Steven Ertelt
August 15, 2008
Bel Air, MD (LifeNews.com) — Maryland officials have dropped all charges against 18 pro-life advocates who were peaceful abortion protest along the streets of Bel Air. Earlier this month, they were arrested without warning by Hartford County State Troopers during their multi-city protest featuring abortions signs.
According to participants who informed LifeNews.com, a state trooper approached the group and told them to move and put away their signs or they would be arrested.
In an effort to comply, group leader Jack Ames gathered the participants and moved down the road, into the city limits of Bel Air, Maryland. The group stood peacefully on public property and did not "march" into the street as one news organization erroneously reported.
Without warning, an estimated twenty patrol cars arrived on the scene and began arresting pro-life participants without a word. Those arrested were not told what they were being charged with, nor were they read their rights.
Harford County’s State Attorney Joe Cassilly dismissed the charges earlier this week against the eight adults and ten teenagers.
While none of those taken into custody were told why they were being arrested, they were later charged with loitering, failure to obey a lawful order, and disorderly conduct.
Defend Life Director Jack Ames told LifeNews.com Friday, "This decision by the State of Maryland to drop the charges shows that our side of the story was the true story."
"There were no traffic jams. There were no people running in and out of traffic. There was no refusal to disperse. They plainly and simply violated our First Amendment rights," he maintained.
Ames says the group is exploring its legal options and may consider a lawsuit against the county and police officials in connection with the incident.
One of the women who participated in the tour overheard a police radio conversation during the arrest where an unknown person told the troopers to make the arrests and that they would "figure out later" what charges would be filed.
The pro-life advocates were held in prison overnight.
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who had participated in the Maryland tour earlier in the week, previously told LifeNews.com he thought a lawsuit would be filed.
"We congratulate the courageous men and women with Defend Life on having their unjust charges dropped. This is a tremendous victory for those arrested in Maryland as well as for the innocent children for which we advocate," he said Friday.
"Every now and then we see rogue police officers who think they can inflict their personal biases on the public without regard to the law. This kind of injustice is a type of tyranny that cannot be allowed to stand," he added.
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