REGINA, Saskatchewan, April 14, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A prominent U.S. pro-family activist who was detained by the Canadian Border Services Agency before being allowed into Canada on appeal was arrested late Monday on the campus of the University of Regina. Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality was arrested along with Canadian pro-family activist Bill Whatcott.
The pair were at the university with a poster depicting a child killed by abortion and a sign saying “sodomy is a sin.” A video of the incident shows that at first Whatcott was asked to leave the campus by campus security, who were accompanied by police. Whatcott responded that he had won two court cases on freedom of speech. “I do believe I have a charter right to speak here,” he said.
Whatcott said that they would have to remove him from campus, because in addition to his charter right, he said, “I believe I have a moral responsibility to share the Gospel with these students.” He added, “I believe this university would not be as rich as it could be if it did not allow me to stay here and speak.”
Just before he was arrested Whatcott said to the guard, “I respect you but I’m not going to obey that order because it’s unjust and it’s illegal.”
As he was warned that he was about to get arrested he said, “Okay, I’m always a peaceful guy.”
As the officer announced his arrest and cuffed him, Whatcott raised his voice slightly to say, “Students, this is wrong. Even those of you who might disagree with me, we are all less free because of this; everybody loses. There are not any winners.” Whatcott concluded, “Shame on this university for suppressing speech.”
LaBarbera, surrounded by police, can be heard on the video saying, “I would rather stay in solidarity with him,” referring to Whatcott. Then he too was arrested.
During Whatcott’s arrest a couple of students can be heard saying that he deserves freedom of speech. But many others, as the two are led away handcuffed, hoot cheers and clap. Hate messages threatening Whatcott and LaBarbera with death can be read in tweets pointing to coverage of the arrest.
The Regina police report on the incident notes that LaBarbera and Whatcott were charged with mischief for “willfully interfering with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property, to wit: the University of Regina.” The police report said:
On Monday, April 14, 2014 at 1:13 p.m., police were dispatched to the University of Regina, in front of the Riddell Centre, for a report of an unwanted guest. When police arrived, they found individuals engaged in a presentation of images and statements. Police learned that University Security had asked the demonstrators to leave U of R property. Police also witnessed this exchange between Security and two adult males. When both men refused Security’s demand to leave, they were taken into custody, without incident, by police. Subsequent investigation, including consultation with the Crown, led to charges against two males, one of whom is a U-S citizen.
Both men were released with a court date of Monday, May 26, 2014.
Prior to entering Canada, LaBarbera had been targeted by a makeshift group known as “Intolerance Free Weyburn,” which pressured the government to deny him access to the country. LaBarbera was detained at customs for three hours and underwent an intensive search of his belongings, including his computer and cell phone, before being initially denied entrance into Canada. After an appeal the following day he was allowed in to attend his speaking engagement with the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association.