University police do nothing to stop desecration of crosses in pro-life display
BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY, April 24, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Campus police stood by as students placed condoms over thousands of tiny crosses as part of an approved university “art project,” according to a pro-life student at Western Kentucky University. The campus group Hilltoppers for Life obtained university permission to erect 3,700 crosses, commemorating the number of babies aborted each day in America, as part of its Cemetery of the Innocents.
John Sohl, the organization’s president, said he confronted two vandals early Friday morning with his video camera. One of them “told me at the beginning of this that she did have her teacher’s permission to do this, this was her art project,” Sohl said.
When he told the pair their actions may constitute vandalism, the woman complained, “I think it’s kinda weird that you’re allowed to express yourself, and I’m not.”
The female student, Elaina Smith, told local media, “I had worried that my idea might offend some. However, after giving it a lot of thought, I came to believe that it is no more or less offensive than the original installation.”
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When Sohl told them he was videotaping their actions, Smith asked, “Is there any way I can get a copy of that?” Her partner explained, “She has to document it for class, anyway.”
When campus police showed up, Sohl said, “they said they were not technically vandalizing our display, that all we would have to do is take the condoms off.” WKU officers let the woman take pictures of her desecration before allowing her to leave.
On Monday, the university issued a press release saying it would investigate the matter. “Free speech – all free speech – is valued by WKU administration,” the university’s official statement. “Interference with the expression of free speech is not condoned and is not supported by WKU.”
That failed to satisfy pro-life advocates, who have seen their displays trashed in other locations. “I find it unbelievable that after the pro-life students contacted campus police they failed to do anything and allowed the desecration to continue, in direct violation of the rights of the pro-life student group,” said Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America. “The desecration of the crosses at WKU is sacrilegious, offensive, and borders on a hate crime.”
University President Gary Randsdell said the pair “just weren’t thinking and exercised some really poor judgment.” He added, “I can’t imagine a faculty member condoning a student to doing [sic] this kind of activity.”
“How does the university have the right to approve assignments that vandalize and desecrate the property and displays of other people?” asked Sohl. “Things did get resolved, but the girl is still getting credit for her project, and the police still did nothing to stop it.”
The defacing stunt follows an eerily similar action at nearby Northern Kentucky University earlier this month. After vandals tore down pairs of baby clothes hung up by pro-life students, one of the suspects, Kyle Pickett, insisted, “Tearing it down was expressing our right to free speech.”
Pro-abortion advocates are increasingly using condoms in their protests, as well. In January, the Occupy Wall Street movement threw condoms on Catholic school girls at a pro-life rally in Rhode Island.
Students for Life of America has established an online petition to protest the campus police’s inaction.
WKU Police Captain of Professional Standards, Joe Harbaugh