Police arrested a Virginia college student Monday after he allegedly destroyed a pro-life display on the College of William & Mary campus last week.
Daniel Sheaffer, 21, of Sterling, Virginia, faces a misdemeanor charge of destruction of property for the alleged vandalism that occurred on Jan. 22, WY Daily reports.
College spokesperson Suzanne Seurattan told The Flat Hat student newspaper the college will not tolerate vandalism or destruction of property.
“The students who set up the display followed the university’s process and protocol for these types of demonstrations,” Seurattan said in an email. “Vandalism or destruction of property is never an acceptable form of expression and clearly a violation of university policy. We are grateful for the hard work of William & Mary Police in this case and pleased an arrest has been made.”
The charges stem from vandalism in the early morning of Jan. 22, the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
On the evening of Jan. 21, students with the college club Advocates for Life set up a display on a campus lawn to show the devastating effects of the abortion decision. They placed 2,538 popsicle sticks in the ground and signs explaining how many babies have been aborted in America under Roe, according to the WY Daily.
One sign read “Love them both” and another read “A woman has rights over her body from the moment she exists.”
Just four hours later, club president Katherine Beck said they discovered that their display had been vandalized. According to the report, the popsicle sticks were torn out of the ground and the signs were ripped up and thrown away.
“It’s upsetting, because virtually no one saw the 3,000 popsicle sticks and signs that took a lot of work,” Beck said. “It’s unfortunate that people who disagreed and are also very passionate about their views felt they could destroy our free speech.”
Pro-life advocates increasingly have become targets of vandalism, threats and harassment.
In December, a 15-year-old girl was punched in the face and knocked to the ground by an abortion activist outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Roanoke, Virginia. The assault was captured on video.
In two separate incidents last year, men also allegedly threatened to kill pro-life advocates outside abortion facilities in California and Florida. In February 2017, violent threats against a California pro-life leader prompted him to cancel a pro-life rally, LifeNews reported.
In the fall, vandals also destroyed pro-life student displays at Northern Kentucky University and St. Louis University. Campus Reform reported two other instances of vandalism in one week: one at the University of Florida and another at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
In October, a professor at San Jose University also allegedly threatened to “ beat the s— out of” pro-life students who were protesting on the California campus. A university spokeswoman said they are investigating.
Students for Life documented at least 40 incidents of vandalism alone in the past five years against its pro-life students groups. An interactive map displays the places where its clubs have been victims of vandalism.
“Other incidences of violence against our group include: Administrators destroying chalkings at Kutztown University, vandals throwing paint on a display at Portland State University, and a display of graduation cords (to highlight ‘missing students’ who were killed by abortion) at University of Miami,” according to Students for Life.