WASHINGTON, D.C., April 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The month of April has not been kind to pro-life freedom of speech, as at least four separate displays have been either damaged or destroyed by pro-abortion vandals in a single week.
The string of incidents began April 17 at George Washington University, where abortion supporters trashed a memorial for victims of abortion. They first altered the sign so that it appeared to support abortion before tearing it down entirely, stuffing it in a nearby waste container.
In Chicago, the annual Easter display in Daley Plaza was vandalized, with display cases smashed and an image of the Divine Mercy – a sacred image of the risen Christ that has special significance to the pro-life movement – desecrated with multiple holes.
Meanwhile, at Winthrop University in South Carolina, the Socialist Student Union mocked pro-lifers by sticking dozens of wire coat hangers into the ground. The move imitated a prior abortion memorial featuring flags stuck into the grass to represent abortion victims.
While the pro-life display was destroyed by vandals during its run with no action taken by the university, the Socialist Students’ display remained unmolested, and students were offered university credit for attending an accompanying pro-abortion event called “Abortion 360.”
Most recently, pro-life students at the University of Miami woke up Thursday to discover that their graduation cap memorial for abortion victims had been destroyed, just one day after it had already been vandalized. The caps were meant to represent all the students who won’t be graduating this year because they were killed in the womb.
Vandals ripped them to shreds Wednesday night, just one day before the display was scheduled to come down.
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In Chicago, attorney Jocelyn Floyd of the Thomas More Society, which sponsored the Easter display, condemned the act of vandalism against the Divine Mercy image. “No display – whether religious, political, or artistic – should be destroyed by those who disagree with the message,” Floyd said. “Free speech and expression of faith is protected by the First Amendment. Destruction of others' speech is not.”
At GWU, a spokesman for the campus chapter of the Young America’s Foundation said that the vandalism against the pro-life display was just one more milestone in an ongoing atmosphere of intolerance and intimidation against conservative viewpoints on campus. The group called on administration officials to publicly condemn the vandals and force them to attend free speech sensitivity training.
“George Washington University claims to take diversity very seriously, but liberal students don't seem to have gotten the message,” said GW YAF spokeswoman Gabby Morrongiello in a statement. “The vandalism of GW YAF's abortion memorial is yet another example of the continuing pattern of intolerance for conservatism at GW.”
“The attacks against GW YAF and our memorial underscores the intolerant atmosphere on campus,” GW YAF President Emily Jashinsky said. “If the university does not act, they are in fact allowing this atmosphere to fester and grow.”
Jashinsky added, “It is sad that liberal students on campus cannot engage in a debate, and instead resort to destroying the property of those they disagree with.”
At Winthrop University, even students who support abortion took issue with the Socialist group’s mockery of pro-life memorials, with one student telling Campus Reform, “It’s really just an appalling act…I’m pro-choice and I found the promotion for the [Abortion 360] event really unappealing and distasteful.”
In Miami, where the graduation cap display was trashed, Adriana Lopez of UM Respect Life told Students for Life she just wished people would reach out to have a conversation rather than try to shut down differing views.
“It makes me sad that someone took the immature route and vandalized our display instead of contacting us to have a peaceful discussion,” she said. “But this act of vandalism has a bright side; it has showed us that our display is getting people’s attention and making them think.”