Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Police Offer to Help Group Change their Message or Else

Authorities in Gwinnett County have dropped a misdemeanor criminal charge against an anti-abortion activist who was arrested for driving a truck emblazoned with images of aborted fetuses.

Gwinnett County Solicitor Rosanna Szabo said she "administratively dismissed" the disorderly conduct charge against Robert Dean Roethlisberger Jr.On the day after Thanksgiving, Roethlisberger drove a truck with banners displaying images of aborted fetuses, including a bloody and headless torso. Roethlisberger works for Operation Rescue, a national anti-abortion organization.

Roethlisberger, 44, of Belton, Mo., had been charged under a provision of Georgia law that makes it a crime to use "obscene and vulgar or profane language" in the presence of a person under age 14.

In making her decision to drop the charge, Szabo said, "I have reviewed the evidence and law in this case, and concluded that the physical display of the images in question — as shocking and offensive as they are — does not constitute 'obscene and vulgar or profane language' as specifically prohibited by this statute."

This was a pretty outrageous violation of the 1st Amendment by the Gwinnet police and the article does not make clear that such actions by the police are illegal under the U.S. Constitution regardless of what the Georgia statute may say.

Why the arresting officer's name is not mentioned is beyond me, as is the absurdity of the quote by Cpl. Spellman, which makes clear that the Gwinnett police intended to violate Roethisberger's constitutional rights.

I do not support Operation Rescue but we do not need Cpl. Spellman of the Gwinnett Police telling them how to convey their group's message.

No comments: