Court Rules D.C. Wrongfully Arrested Pro-Lifers For Their Sidewalk Art

Tierin-Rose Mandelburg | August 16, 2023
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In a pro-free speech victory, a federal court ruled that Washington D.C. improperly arrested two pro-life advocates after they wrote “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter” on the sidewalk back in 2020. All the while, the same city allowed dozens of Black Lives Matter protesters to riot, loot and cause damage all summer long. 

Essentially, in 2020, two members of the Students for Life group were arrested while attempting to write pro-life messaging on a public sidewalk. Washington officials arrested Warner DePriest, and Erica Caporaletti after they, in temporary sidewalk chalk, wrote “Black Preborn Lives Matter” outside of a Planned Parenthood location in D.C. 

A video of the arrest shows the pro-lifers writing the message and saying “this is our Constitutional right. We do this every Saturday.” In the video, an officer is spotted saying, “If you continue chalking, you’re going to be placed under arrest for defacing property.”

Related: Fox News' Kayleigh McEnany Says Pro-Lifers Need To Go On Offense In 2024

The pair were arrested and placed in a jail cell. In an interview with Tucker Carlson when he was still with Fox News, DePriest said, “it was basically like Shawshank, Tucker.”

The two individuals, in partnership with Students for Life and the Frederick Douglass Foundation, sued D.C. over a violation of their First Amendment rights and viewpoint discrimination. 

At the time, BLM groups were allowed to run rampant through the streets and display their slogans anywhere and everywhere. As a matter of fact, in D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser even instructed D.C. city employees to write “Black Lives Matter” in permanent paint on the street leading to the White House following George Floyd’s death via overdose that was blamed on a police officer.

Yet, by simply adding the adjective, “preborn,” the phrase went from celebrated to something that people needed to be arrested over? Are ya joking? 

Luckily, as of Tuesday, the court ruled that the arrest of DePriest and Caporaletti was unlawful in a unanimous 3-0 decision. In its decision, the court said:

In the summer of 2020, thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the District to proclaim ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Over several weeks, the protesters covered streets, sidewalks, and storefronts with paint and chalk. The markings were ubiquitous and in open violation of the District’s defacement ordinance, yet none of the protesters were arrested. During the same summer, District police officers arrested two pro-life advocates in a smaller protest for chalking ‘Black Preborn Lives Matter’ on a public sidewalk. 

The court added:

“The First Amendment prohibits discrimination on the basis of viewpoint irrespective of the government’s motive. We hold the Foundation has plausibly alleged the District discriminated on the basis of viewpoint in the selective enforcement of its defacement ordinance. We therefore reverse the dismissal of the Foundation’s First Amendment claim and remand for further proceedings.” 

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represented the pro-life groups in the case. Erin Hawley, ADF Senior Counsel, explained that “Washington officials can’t censor messages they disagree with,” which is exactly what the cops were doing when they arrested the innocent pro-lifers. “Every American deserves for their voice to be heard as they engage in important cultural and political issues of the day,” she added according to Students for Life

The win is not only a win for pro-life advocates who want all life to be valued, protected, honored and sacred but for free speech, especially for a group that’s regularly censored. SFL president, Kristan Hawkins said it best when she said, “If you open the door to free speech on the city streets to one group, you can’t shut it to others.”

Preach it sista. 

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