College of Alameda, California Officials Have Pro-Life Advocates Arrested
by Steven Ertelt
October 29, 2008
Alameda, CA (LifeNews.com) — Officials at the College of Alameda in southern California are coming under fire for having a group of pro-life young adults arrested for distributing pro-life literature on their campus. Members of Survivors, a pro-life group dedicated to educating about the effects of abortion, were involved.
Upon arriving on campus on Tuesday, the pro-life advocates quietly held signs, distributed literature and peacefully dialogued with students.
Within moments of their arrival, a campus security guard attempted to dispel a group of curious onlookers ushering them away from the displays. Campus officials reportedly contacted the Alameda Sheriff’s Department and officers instructed the group to leave, threatening them with arrest.
When members of the pro-life group refused to stop their activities and leave the public school property, three of the pro-life advocates handing out literature to students were handcuffed and arrested.
After spending nearly twelve hours in jail, three college-age pro-life people were released at midnight tired, hungry, and glad to have their freedom back.
Kortney Blythe, director of Campus Life Tours for Survivors told LifeNews.com she was upset that the pro-life people spent time in jail "for peacefully exercising their free speech rights."
Blythe added: "It is a travesty that the Alameda sheriff deputies put these heroes in handcuffs claiming they were just ‘following orders.’ Don’t we live in America?"
Arresting officers reportedly told the pro-life young adults involved that they were making the arrests in response to a request from the College of Alameda president.
LifeNews.com contacted the college and did not receive a response to requests for comment.
Allison Aranda, an attorney who represents the Survivors group, told LifeNews.com, "I am appalled that a public college would go to such great lengths to suppress free speech on their public campus. To give one person the sole discretion and authority to deem certain speech too controversial to be spoken in a public forum is unconstitutional."
Aranda described the process the organization employs before educating college students about pro-life issues.
"It is our practice to send a letter to the college at least 24 hours before the planned activity to notify them of the Survivors’ visit to their campus," she said.
"In this case, the College of Alameda made no effort to contact the Survivors or myself to discuss their opposition to the group’s message," Aranda added. "Rather, they simply waited for the group to appear on campus, then had them forcibly removed and placed under arrest. These sorts of blatant civil rights violations by public college officials, who should know better, will not be tolerated. We will not sit idly by and watch our public institutions disregard the constitution."
Dana Cody, the director of the pro-life law firm Life Legal Defense Foundation, also commented on the incident.
"College campuses, traditionally strongholds of free speech and thought, have turned into strongholds of censorship," she said. "Whether you agree with Ms. Aranda’s clients’ viewpoint on abortion or not, unless we fight this trend, who will be next? We at LLDF are 100% behind Ms. Aranda’s efforts on behalf of the Survivors."
ACTION: Contact the College of Alameda at 555 Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway, Alameda, California 94501 or phone the president’s office at (510) 748-2273. You can fax a letter to (510) 769-6019.
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