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LOS ANGELES, November 26, 2003 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Federal Judge Edward Rafeedie of the Central District of California issued a preliminary injunction in favour of four pro-life activists who seek to communicate to young people the truth about abortion. The pro-lifers were represented by Catherine Short, Legal Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation.  The injunction prohibits the Long Beach Unified School District, a high school principal, six Long Beach police officers and the city from arresting or otherwise interfering with the pro-lifers “holding signs, distributing literature, and discussing abortion with students and others present on the sidewalk adjoining Millikan High School during school dismissal periods.”

The decision arose out of a civil rights action filed by Dan McCullough, Eric Milton, Myh Vo, and Christine Reeves. On September 26, 2002, the four were holding signs and distributing literature on the public sidewalk in front of Millikan High School in Long Beach. The police told them they were trespassing because the sidewalk was considered school property and the principal didn’t want them there. When threatened with arrest, three of them retreated to the opposite sidewalk, but McCullough refused to leave and was taken into custody.  About twenty minutes later, the police demanded that Milton hand over his videotape of the incident. When he declined to do so, they threatened him and the others with arrest. Ultimately, the police got the tape from Milton by placing handcuffs on him. Fortunately, the tape was later retrieved from the police.  The defendants initially argued that the public sidewalk adjacent to a high school is not a public forum, then that the plaintiffs’ speech could be restricted because it was “offensive” and the students were a “captive audience,” and finally that part of the public sidewalk technically belonged to the school district. The district court rejected all of these arguments.  Short stated, “We are very pleased with the court’s order allowing our clients to return to Millikan High School and show their peers the ugly and, yes, ‘offensive’, truth about abortion.”

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