Monday October 4, 2010
Police Detain Young California Activists for Pro-Life Witness on Public Sidewalk
NIPOMO, California, October 4, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Members of the Survivors’ Campus Life Team were detained for holding graphic images and advocating the pro-life message on public sidewalks in front of Nipomo High School on Monday, September 27, 2010.
The activists were offering literature to students as they left the school when they were approached by campus administrators and guards shortly after school dismissal and instructed to leave the area or face arrest.
According to the Survivers, Principal Johnson and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Deputy Holzier claimed, first, that the Survivors were on school property, then that they were in violation of the school’s safety zone, and then that the team had caused a campus disturbance because the school administration had received many calls from angry parents.
The Survivors say that Deputy Holzier prevented team members Kristina Garza and Daniel Rivera from participating in outreach for at least twenty minutes. “It was obvious that both the school and the sheriff department did not want us to share our message with the students,” said Ms. Garza, director of the Campus Life Team. Deputy Holzier held the team members for questioning until all of the Nipomo students had left the area.
On Wednesday morning the Survivors learned that Nipomo High School officials posted a message on their website chastising the group for displaying graphic images to their students and assured parents that the school was taking steps to ensure this never happened again. Attorneys from the Life Legal Defense Foundation say they contacted the watch commander at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, who agreed that the Survivors had a right to stand on the public sidewalk and hold their signs.
The Campus Life Team returned to Nipomo High School on Wednesday afternoon where they were met once again by school administrators and sheriff deputies ordering them to move across the street away from the students.
LLDF staff attorney, Allison Aranda, spoke with the sergeant in charge explaining to him why the group had a constitutional right to stand on the public street and engage in free speech activity.
Meanwhile, the Survivors continued to share their pro-life message with students undeterred by law enforcement.
“I’m proud that these young people took a stand for the truth and didn’t let the administrator’s abuse of authority intimidate them from lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights,” said Ms. Aranda.