WASHINGTON, D.C.—Two pro-life protesters were arrested and charged with defacing public or private property on Saturday, August 1 as they wrote “Black Pre-Born LivesMatter” in chalk on the sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood facility.
Erica Caporaletti, 22, a student at Towson University, and Warner DePriest, 29, a resident in D.C. joined the protest led by the antiabortion group Students for Life of America (SLA) on Saturday morning. There were about 24 people participating in the rally.
“The fact that two of our students were arrested for chalking pro-life messages in Washington D.C. shows that government officials are practicing viewpoint discrimination and blocking our free speech rights,” stated SLA. The advocacy group plans to sue Mayor Muriel Bowser and claims that the police officers’ actions violated their First Amendment rights.
The leaders of the SLA and the Frederick Douglass Foundation (FDF) said they did receive the permit to paint “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter” with non-permanent tempera paint, but when two people began to write down the slogan on the street, an officer approached and told them that they would be arrested if they keep painting.
A spokesperson of the Metropolitan Police Department said the officers only permitted the group to assemble and did not give the advocacy group permission to put a message on the street, claiming only the D.C. Department of Transportation can issue permits for painting the streets.
The group emphasized that Bowser allowed people to paint “BLACK LIVES MATTER” and “Defund the Police” on the streets, but prevented them from painting “Black Pre-Born LivesMatter,” saying it’s “government censorship.”