Activists plan to sue the mayor of Washington, D.C., after police arrested two students for chalking a pro-life message outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.
Students for Life will file a lawsuit against D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser (D.) following the arrest of a student activist and staffer for writing "Black Preborn Lives Matter" with sidewalk chalk outside of the clinic. In a letter from Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins the group outlined its upcoming lawsuit, which alleges Bowser violated the group's First Amendment rights.
"The next place Mayor Bowser will see us will be in the courtroom," the letter reads. "Because Students for Life will sue the city of Washington, D.C., for violating our First Amendment rights to free speech and expression."
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The activist group was met with six police cars and members were threatened with arrest before writing the message. Video footage shows police officers handcuffing 29-year-old staffer Warner DePriest and Towson University student Erica Caporaletti.
The fact that two of our students were arrested for chalking pro-life messages in Washington D.C. shows that government officials are practicing viewpoint discrimination and blocking our free speech rights.
We’ll see you in court. pic.twitter.com/Jb14oN6ik1
— studentsforlife (@StudentsforLife) August 3, 2020
Students for Life spokeswoman Kristi Hamrick told the Washington Free Beacon DePriest and Caporaletti were charged with defacing public and private property.
"Both individuals were citation released," Alaina Gertz, a spokeswoman for the D.C. police department, said. "Prior to authorizing the arrests, the lieutenant onsite issued multiple warnings to the individuals writing on the sidewalk that doing so was in violation of D.C. code."
The group initially planned to write "Black Preborn Lives Matter" in temporary paint but opted to use sidewalk chalk after being confronted by police officers. Following the death of George Floyd in May and the protests that followed, Bowser allowed activists to use permanent paint to write "Black Lives Matter" in downtown D.C. alongside other political messages such as "defund the police." Hawkins said she was told by the D.C. police that the mayor "opened a Pandora's box" by painting public streets, meaning they were open for public expression.
The pro-life group said it applied for and received a permit for their event in D.C. on August 1 and were given specific instructions to use temporary paint for any messaging. Hamrick told the Free Beacon the permit cannot be shared with the public as it was turned over to attorneys.
"[The permit] has been turned over to the attorney as this is now a legal matter," Hamrick said. "But to be clear, two students were arrested for chalking. We applied for an event permit in which we were told we would not be prevented from painting and told what paint to buy."
The D.C. mayor's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The D.C. Planned Parenthood office could not confirm whether the police presence was requested in light of the Students for Life protests.
The letter also criticized Bowser for her "wokeness" and accused the mayor of promoting freedom of speech exclusively for political allies. Hawkins suggested that after the Students for Life lawsuit, the mayor would recognize the First Amendment and Planned Parenthood's ties to eugenics.
"Well, Mayor Bowser, you're about to get WOKE on Planned Parenthood's racist past and present," the letter reads. "You're about to get WOKE on the violence of abortion. You're about to get WOKE on the FIRST AMENDMENT."
The lawsuit has yet to be filed, but Hawkins told the Free Beacon that attorneys have been hired and legal action is underway.