Pro-Life Advocates Detained for Opposing Abortion at California High School
by Steven Ertelt
October 1, 2010
Nipomo, CA (LifeNews.com) — Members of the pro-life group Survivors were detained on Monday for holding signs showing pictures of babies victimized by abortions and sharing the pro-life message on public sidewalks with students in front of Nipomo High School, in this central California city.
The activists offered literature to students as they left the school, many of whom requested the pro-life information from the windows of their parents’ cars, as their parents were picking them up.
The members of the pro-life group were approached by campus administrators and guards shortly after school dismissal and instructed to leave the area or face arrest.
Principal Johnson and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Deputy Holzier claimed first that the pro-life advocates were on school property, then that they were in violation of the school’s safety zone, and then that the team had caused a campus disturbance because the school administration had received many calls from angry parents.
Deputy Holzier prevented team members Kristina Garza and Daniel Rivera from participating in outreach for at least twenty minutes.
"It was obvious that both the school and the sheriff department did not want us to share our message with the students," said Garza, director of the Campus Life Team. Deputy Holzier held the team members for questioning until all of the Nipomo students had left the area.
On Wednesday morning, the young pro-life advocates learned that Nipomo High School officials posted a message on their website chastising the group for displaying graphic images to their students and assured parents that the school was taking steps to ensure this never happened again.
Attorneys from the Life Legal Defense Foundation contacted the watch commander at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, who agreed that the pro-life advocates had a right to stand on the public sidewalk and hold their signs.
The Survivors’ team returned to Nipomo High School on Wednesday afternoon, to engage in the free speech activity they attempted on Monday, but this time uninhibited by the threat of arrest. They were met once again by school administrators and sheriff deputies ordering them to move across the street away from the students.
LLDF staff attorney Allison Aranda spoke with the sergeant in charge for nearly 15 minutes explaining to him why the group had a constitutional right to stand on the public street and engage in free speech activity.
Meanwhile, the pro-life advocates continued to share their pro-life message with students undeterred by law enforcement. By the end of the event, the students of Nipomo High School were exposed to the truth about abortion and the administrators learned a valuable lesson about free speech, the group told LifeNews.com.
"I’m proud that these young people took a stand for the truth and didn’t let the administrator’s abuse of authority intimidate them from lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights," Aranda said.
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