WorldNetDaily is reporting that Washington D.C. police are denying pro-life groups their annual gathering to show off their sidewalk chalk display near the White House during Inauguration Week. The D.C. police have given permission for the last 16 years for this demonstration; however, this year Commander James Crane has denied the request stating that the “sidewalk chalking” would be deemed graffiti. Other groups have also been given permission in the past for their chalk displays.
D.C. cops ban pro-life messages
‘Is this the future of free speech and political dissent under President Obama?’
Posted: January 16, 2009
12:10 am Eastern By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department has forbidden a pro-life gathering and chalk display during Inauguration Week – and now the group is fighting back with a lawsuit against the department.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said the department is banning the event because of its message.
“For over 16 years, law enforcement officials have given permission to the Christian Defense Coalition to use public ‘sidewalk chalking’ as a part of their demonstrations and vigils in the nation’s capitol. The City of Washington, D.C., has also allowed numerous public ‘chalk art displays’ throughout the city,” he said in a statement. “It is therefore most troubling that for the first time the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department is banning this practice when it involves a pro-life display in front of the White House.”
Thursday, Jan. 22, marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since 9714, pro-life activists have gathered in Washington, D.C., each year to protest the decision and call attention to millions of lives lost.
The Christian Defense Coalition and Generation Life and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust asked for permission to meet and draw sidewalk chalk messages on the sidewalk near the White House, as many groups have often done during public assemblies.
However, Commander James Crane denied their request in a Jan. 7 letter. He also said applying chalk to Pennsylvania Avenue and adjacent sidewalks “would constitute defacing public property in violation of D.C. Official Code 22-3312.01.”
Terrence Ryan, general counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, immediately responded to Crane’s letter, claiming the commander applied laws intended to prevent graffiti to the group’s chalk display.
Washington, D.C., 2005 event invited children to “chalk for peace.”
He cited other cases where police permitted sidewalk chalking – including a youth chalk art contest the city hosted for three years, and a D.C. event in 2005 where children were invited to “chalk for peace.” He included pictures of the incidents.
Ryan said permission was denied to Rev. Mahoney based on the groups’ viewpoint and content of speech.
Now the Christian Defense Coalition is filing a lawsuit in U. S. District Court on Friday, accusing the police department of infringing on First Amendment free speech rights. The pro-choice activists are seeking a temporary restraining order against police.
“Is this the future of free speech and political dissent under President Obama?” Mahoney asked in his statement. “The streets in front of the White House should be open to all views, opinions and thoughts. It should not be a place of censorship and intimidation. I hope this was not the kind of change President Obama was talking about.”