DENVER – Two teenagers who had been given city permission to write their messages protesting Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s support for abortion on public sidewalks during the Democratic National Convention this week were shoved to the sidewalk, cuffed and arrested for doing just that.
Jayne White, 17, was arrested for chalking sidewalk messages critical of Barack Obama’s support for abortion
The two are part of the Survivors organization, a Christian, pro-life activism group dedicated to educating and activating high school and college age individuals.
It is called Survivors because those born after 1972 are survivors of the abortion holocaust, the group said. “One-third of your generation has been killed by abortion in America.”
Spokeswoman Danielle Versluys told WND the group had consulted with Denver city officials as well as police prior to the DNC, and had been told that chalk messages on sidewalks would be allowed. Even though the city’s deputy chief was in the meeting, that message apparently didn’t get forwarded to officers on the street.
Just about the time Obama, an ardent abortion supporter whose advocacy for the procedure has gone even further than that of the National Abortion Rights Action League, was making a surprise visit to the DNC meeting at which vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden was speaking to the crowds, the girls were participating in “A Prayer for Change” protest outside the hotel where Obama was staying.
“I was peacefully sidewalk chalking when I was forcefully pushed to ground by a police officer from behind,” Jayne White, 17, described. “As I was being cuffed on the ground, the police officer pushed his knee into the back of my neck. I was pulled roughly off the ground and taken away. I was given no warning to stop and was completely shocked when I was arrested.’
Julia Giacopuzzi, 15, had her arms twisted behind her, and then was lifted off the ground by her arms, by police during the Democratic National Convention in Denver
Julia Giacopuzzi, age 15, was surprised by a police officer twisting her arms behind her back and using them to lift her off the ground to be handcuffed.
“I was rushed by a police officer without warning and lifted up off the ground and was cuffed. I was then dragged by the police into the Westin Hotel,” she said.
Throughout the DNC, the youthful members of the organization have been using sidewalk chalk to raise attention to the issue of life with the permission of City Attorney David Fine and Denver Deputy Chief of Police John Lamb.
“It was understood by the young women that sidewalk chalk was an accepted medium, and they were given no warning by the police before being cuffed and dragged away,” the group said.
Versluys told WND the two later were released, and it was unclear whether they will face a prosecution in Denver yet.
“It blows my mind,” she said. “I think the officers were keyed up. We’re not sure whether they acted of their own accord or had orders.”
Also arrested in the incident was Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington. Officials said he was threatened with a felony for “leading” the event.
“I am horrified and outraged at the treatment of these two girls. Not only were they legally expressing their opinions on the public sidewalk, but they were doing so peacefully and without incident. The officers acted without provocation, and should be ashamed of themselves for terrorizing two young women,” Versluys said.
“I am also appalled that the city of Denver boasted of the city’s preparation for the convention but clearly neglected to train their police force to respect the First Amendment and the rights of citizens to peacefully demonstrate,” she said.
“The city of Denver sent a clear message to civic-minded young people this week: the First Amendment doesn’t apply here,” she said. The arrests can be seen on the following video:
“I am shocked at how cowardly these police officers behaved by attacking little girls without warning or provocation,” said Troy Newman, chief of the Operation Rescue campaign in Wichita, Kan.. “There was absolutely no reason for [any violence.]”
He said his organization the chalk protesters “conducted themselves peacefully and appropriately at all times.”