Birmingham, Alabama, Loses Court Case on Pro-Life Group Protesting Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
July 8, 2010
Birmingham, AL (LifeNews.com) — Officials in this Alabama city are backing down after facing a lawsuit from a pro-life legal group, Life Legal Defense Fund. LLDF says several Birmingham police officers engaged in "outrageous civil rights violations" against nine pro-life advocates who were arrested last year.
LLDF told LifeNews.com in June that the pro-life young people were unlawfully arrested in February 2009 and they spent more than 14 hours in jail for holding signs and handing out literature on a public sidewalk in front of a local high school.
The pro-life advocates are members of the pro-life activist youth group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust and they were handing out literature to students as they left the building at the end of the school day.
They want to come back to Birmingham and do the same thing and the lawsuit was filed to ensure their First Amendment rights are protected.
Now, a federal district court in Alabama approved a consent order today ensuring that police in Birmingham will not interfere with the expressive activities of the pro-life youth group.
Because the Survivors planned to travel to Birmingham this month to participate in various pro-life activities scheduled for late July, they asked LLDF to obtain a preliminary injunction to ensure that they would not suffer the same treatment from police as they had last year. In the course of seeking that injunction, LLDF lawyers learned that the city had a "demonstration" ordinance that required groups as small as two persons to obtain permits before engaging in various free speech activity.
"What started as a lawsuit to get fair treatment for the Survivors has evolved into a broader challenge to the city’s unconstitutional permit scheme," said Katie Short, legal director of LLDF.
She told LifeNews.com: "We have learned from local pro-lifers that this law has been a thorn in their side for years. We are hopeful that when this suit is over, we will have not only vindicated the Survivors’ rights, but also have relieved the local pro-life community of the burden of this onerous law."
The suit arose from an incident which saw officers tell the group the sidewalk was private property and not a public sidewalk and insisted the pro-life advocates go to a sidewalk across the street to hold their signs and distribute literature.
When the pro-life activists refused to move, police arrested all nine including those who were only filming the police interaction. Police officials also confiscated the groups camera equipment, destroying some of the video coverage of the event, and towed their van, resulting in damage to the vehicle.
Related web sites:
Life Legal Defense Foundation – https://lldf.org
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