Police vandalize pro-life display, then slink away
Outside a high school in Maryland, a police officer seized pro-life signage and threw the signs into a public street, creating a traffic hazard.
One morning each week, CBR Maryland Director Kurt Linnemann and a few volunteers take CBR GAP and Choice signs to a nearby high school. We call it our School “Choice” Project. (You can do this in your community; we can help.)
After unloading the signs at Aberdeen High School on the morning of November 18, Linnemann drove his van to a nearby parking lot. When he returned, he was stunned to see an Aberdeen police officer throwing the signs out into the street. Linnemann immediately requested that the officer summon his supervisor to the scene.
Shortly thereafter, a police supervisor arrived, along with other officers and the Aberdeen HS principal. The officers huddled with the principal and got on their phones to see if CBR was on public property or school property. After about 30 minutes, they all quietly departed the scene, and CBR continued to display the signs.
Following the incident, Linnemann drove to the Aberdeen Police Department and filed a formal complaint against the officer.
There are lessons to be learned in this:
- Before picketing any street location, do your homework in the city and/or county planning office to determine exact property and right-of-way lines. Carry your maps with you. We faced the same question at Liberty University and the maps settled the question. It’s a waste of time to stand on the street corner and argue with people who have no idea where the property and right-of-way boundaries actually lie.
- Before arriving at a location, notify the police of your plans and offer a meeting. Take your maps with you. Negotiate all the details, including where, when, how, etc. Ask that the applicable patrol officers be notified of the activity.
- ALWAYS videotape your work. Assign a video camera to at least one person, preferably two. We sometimes put the camera on a tripod and place it under the protection of a nearby tree. You can even get cameras that mount on your person (link here). Voice recorders are also an inexpensive way to establish the facts of what was said to whom.
- NEVER defy a police order, even if you disagree with the police. When we are asked to leave an area, we say, “We will certainly obey your directive, but may I ask by what law compels us to leave?” And then, “OK, may I have your name, please?” Settle the matter in court later, appealing to people who know the law; do not attempt to settle the matter on the street, with people who do not know the law. Your position in court is much stronger as the plaintiff in a civil action than as a defendant in a criminal action.
This entry was posted on Monday, December 19th, 2011 at 5:05 pm and is filed under Pro Life Activism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.