Massachusetts city convicts pro-lifer for holding sign outside a school
BROCKTON, MA, March 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life activist who says he has suffered police harassment – from barricading his signs to being choked and beaten – has been convicted for holding a sign outside a Massachusetts school.
Peter D'Attilio of the pro-life group Defenders of Women was convicted on February 12 of disturbing a school, trespassing, and resisting arrest.
The two-day jury trial came about because D'Attilio held a pro-life sign in front of a public charter school in the Boston suburb of Brockton on March 21, 2012.
According to his account, D'Attilio was led to the school by a female African-American student who took some of his two-inch wide pro-life bookmarks to pass out to her classmates. As he held his sign canvassing the area, a school official, then a police officer asked him to leave.
D'Attilio said after he left, the police officer – with whom he had a previous tense encounter – ran across the street, tackled him, and arrested him.
The police never returned the videotape inside the camcorder that would have cleared his name, according to D'Attilio.
The pro-life group MassResistance believes police have harassed D'Attilio for years in an effort to squash his life-affirming message.
“In our opinion, it seemed this was meant to send a strong message to pro-life activists,” the group said. “By local standards, this was a 'nuisance' case that would normally never have gone forward.”
“In Brockton there is a backlog of actual violent crimes. And this one, on its face, had no substance,” the group stated. “It did not involve injury, damage, theft, etc., but was more political in nature. Nevertheless, neither the judge nor the District Attorney's office would relent.”
D'Attilio has had numerous run-ins with police before, including a confrontation at a Catholic church's Italian festival that left him with a black eye.
According to the police report, the festival chairman complained to police and asked D’Attilio be removed.
After being approached by police, D’Attilio offered to leave, but the arresting officer wrote that as D’Attilio “started to leave, I told him to stop and went to block him with my arm extended.”
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D’Attilio refused to produce his identification, his right under the law, and that ended with him arrested and handcuffed.
D’Attilio claims he was also choked on his knees before being forced into the cruiser, then punched in the face. In a photo taken days later, a black eye is evident.
D’Attilio also said his vehicle had been searched by bomb-sniffing dogs and was told by police that he had been added to the federal terrorist watch list.
A judge dismissed that case as “remarkable … nonsense.”
Shortly before the choking incident, D'Attilio posted video of Quincy police standing in front of his sign and telling interested parties to “keep going” rather than view his message. D'Attilio said this violated his First Amendment rights.