Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fighting for Our First Amendment Rights

Last month, we — that is, the Pro-Life Action League, the organization I work for — decided we needed to start holding monthly protests outside the recently opened Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Aurora, IL. (As I have remarked previously, since this facility is the largest abortion clinic in the U. S., we have taken to calling it the "Abortion Fortress of Aurora".)

In the course of exercising our First Amendment rights by organizing prayer vigils, rallies, protests, and the like outside the facility's site these past several months, we've encountered not a few difficulties from the City of Aurora's powers that be.

We've already sued the city once
, and will likely have to do so again.

Why, you may ask? For a whole host of reasons, really.

For starters, pro-life blogger Jill Stanek explains:

With no plan in sight to pour sidewalks so those citizens can safely protest according to their First Amendment rights, or even so the poor women of America can safely trudge barefoot and accidentally pregnant to Planned Parenthood's largest abortion mill in the U.S., Aurora city officials have instead erected nonsensical signs to nowhere banning pro-life presense from anywhere across the street from PP (click to enlarge)....

My friend and co-worker Eric Scheidler, who has been spearheading our multi-faceted activism campaign in Aurora, comments on these signs:

The "beyond this point" one is funny. There isn't any "point" there. It's just in the middle of Oakhurst, sort of facing the south, as if to say you can't protest north of this sign. But the other one, that just says "no protesting," is actually SOUTH of the "beyond this point" sign. It's nonsense. Typical Aurora incompetence.

There are a similar pair of signs farther south. One faces west, out into the street, and says "beyond this point." But there's no logical "point" the sign could be referring to. Across the street is a regular "no protesting" sign. But that's the one place where a "beyond this point" sign might make a little sense. Heigh ho.

During our protest last month, Aurora police approached a fellow I know named Roger Earl, who was walking with his five-month old daughter on the only public sidewalk in the vicinity of Planned Parenthood. (His wife, meanwhile, was sidewalk counseling.)

Here's how a reporter from the Chicago Tribune described the events that transpired:

Police threatened to arrest a man praying and walking with his infant along the east side of Oakhurst, near a residential community.

"I wasn't planning to be part of the protest today," said Aurora resident Roger Earl. "I didn't realize that I was breaking any law by walking along the sidewalk praying."

Earl said he was near the protest because his wife was participating, and he was watching their infant. He said police approached him and asked him whether he was part of the protest, warned him twice and then threatened to arrest him.

Police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said Earl was praying and wearing an insignia indicating he opposed abortion.

[Aurora Police Chief William] Powell defended the police enforcement.

"If he's praying here, he's here because of the building. He can pray at home or anywhere," he said.

Believe it or not, in light of comments made by Chief Powell at an Aurora City Council meeting earlier that week, what he said here is not out of character for him.

Another friend of mine, JT Eschbach, just posted video he took of Roger talking about the incident with the Chicago Tribune reporter — and, it appears, at least one other reporter as well. (Note also: The fellow in the red hat, standing behind Roger, is Jason Craddock, one of our attorneys from the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center.)

Here's the video:

For our part, we remain undeterred. Our next protest is this Saturday.

Pray for us. And, more importantly, pray for an end to abortion — an especially fitting petition as we prepare to celebrate tomorrow the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the Patroness of the Unborn.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]

No comments: