Birmingham Police Return Pro-Life Group’s Cameras Just Before Press Event
by Steven Ertelt
February 17, 2009
Birmingham, AL (LifeNews.com) — Just moments before members of the pro-life group Survivors planned to hold a press conference on Monday, staff with the Birmingham, Alabama police department returned the group’s camera equipment. The group said it had footage showing the police wrongfully arrested them.
The pro-life advocates were arrested last week and detained overnight after distributing pro-life literature outside a local high school.
During their arrest, police confiscated the camera equipment and Kortney Blythe, director of the Survivors Campus Life Tours, told LifeNews.com the footage contained on them can show that the police arrested the pro-life advocates without cause.
After waiting nearly five days in Birmingham for their equipment, the members of the group can now return to their efforts to spread the message at high school and college campuses.
"The team spent more than 14 hours in jail for simply standing on a public sidewalk holding a sign and handing out literature in front of Parker High School. Adding insult to injury, when the team was finally released Friday morning, the police stalled the release of the team’s camera equipment," Blythe said.
Moments before the press event, Blythe received a telephone call from police officials informing her that the property would be released sometime later that same afternoon.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to prove our innocence. The video shows what we have been stating all along – my team was simply standing on a public sidewalk, peacefully exercising their constitutional right to free speech," she added.
Dana Cody, the director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life law firm helping the Survivors group, talked with LifeNews.com about the release of the video equipment.
"While we are pleased that the police have returned the Survivors property, this small step in no way cures their prior misconduct and abuse of authority," she said.
She said her group would be following the case to make sure charges are dropped against the pro-life advocates.
"We expect the prosecutor to follow in the steps of the Birmingham Police Department and dismiss all charges brought against these nine innocent young people," she said.
Allison Aranda, also with the pro-life law firm, added: "It goes without saying that this radical abuse of police power will not be overlooked. We look forward to our day in court."
Nine college-aged participants in the Survivors Campus Life Tour were arrested on a public sidewalk while distributing literature to students. The group of pro-life youth activists quietly held signs, distributed literature and peacefully dialogued with students on the public sidewalk.
Local officials threatened the pro-life advocates with arrest and they contacted their attorneys, who informed them that their location on the public sidewalk and their free speech activity was legal according to local and state laws.
Once the members of the pro-life team finished distributing their literature and were loading their van in preparation to leave, officers handcuffed and arrested all nine pro-life advocates without warning.
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