Pro-life advocates filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing the city of Detroit and its police of violating their free speech rights during the Democratic presidential debate in July.
Created Equal, represented by the American Freedom Law Center, accused authorities of using “police state tactics” to censor its pro-life views.
The pro-life group said its members’ rights were violated several times by city law enforcement, and Created Equal President Mark Harrington was handcuffed and detained outside the Fox Theatre during the presidential debate in July.
“From the moment we arrived, Detroit Police harassed and mistreated us,” Harrington said. “We were silenced by police several times over the course of the two days for attempting to express our free speech rights.”
He said his group tried to get as close to the theater as possible without entering the restricted area. At one point, he said pro-life advocates with his group went into a church parking lot where media outlets and other protesters were standing.
“For that, I was handcuffed and detained,” Harrington said. “We won’t be intimidated.”
The lawsuit names the City of Detroit, the police department and three officers.
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Lawrence Garcia, legal counsel for the city, told the Detroit Free Press that he believes the city’s actions were justified.
“We are confident in the city’s position in this case and look forward to defending it in court,” Garcia said. “Beyond that we will not be commenting on this litigation.”
Here’s more from the report:
The lawsuit claims the free speech zone was made up of two areas where protesters were divided based on their viewpoints, with those who opposed the views held by the candidates placed in a less favorable location.
On the second day of debates, protesters with Created Equal occupied the more advantageous location — which the court filing says was the “preferred location” because it was visible from the theater — but were ordered to move or be arrested after using bullhorns, the lawsuit alleges. The suit claims bullhorns were allowed on the first day of the debates.
The lawsuit alleges “the ‘speech restrictions’ had the intended effect of sanitizing and cleansing the areas immediately in front of and adjacent to the Fox Theatre of any messages that were critical of the Democrat presidential candidates and the positions and policies they supported.”
Harrington said they plan to protest at the next Democratic presidential debate in October in Ohio. The Democratic presidential candidates have embraced an increasingly radical pro-abortion agenda, calling for unrestricted abortions up to birth and taxpayer funding for them.
Created Equal trains pro-life advocates and runs a traveling photo exhibit that shows the unborn victims of abortion.