A branch of the Smithsonian Institution is being sued by pro-lifers for suppressing on a public sidewalk their message that abortion disproportionately kills blacks.
The taxpayer-funded National Museum of African American History and Culture threatened to arrest activists with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform who were carrying signs pointing out abortion’s death toll in the black community, according to the complaint filed by the American Freedom Law Center.
“Our clients have a clear right under the First Amendment to engage in their peaceful, non-obstructive free speech activity on the public sidewalks outside of this museum,” said Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder.
“If the curators won’t tell the story about the impact of abortion on the African American community inside the museum, our clients will exercise their free speech rights and tell it outside,” he said.
The plaintiffs include Gregg Cunningham, Pastor Clenard H. Childress Jr. and Jacqueline Hawkins.
Muise said his clients’ message should be part of the exhibits inside this publicly funded museum, “but at a minimum, African American citizens such as Pastor Childress and Ms. Hawkins shouldn’t be threatened by government officials with arrest or force for expressing their message on the public sidewalks in front of this museum.”
David Yerushalmi, AFLC senior counsel, said that in addition “to being a gross violation of our clients’ fundamental rights, the actions of the museum officials and their armed security demonstrate the hypocrisy of the left.”
“Progressives claim to be for diversity and tolerance, but if you don’t march in lockstep with their narrative, they use force and the threat of force to shut you down,” he said.
Yerushalmi said “the progressives” in charge of the museum not only want “to control the content and viewpoint of the messages expressed to visitors inside the museum, they want to control the content and viewpoint of the messages expressed to potential visitors outside of the museum, on penalty of arrest.”
AFLC, a national public interest law firm, is asking the U.S. District Court in Washington to rule that the speech restrictions the museum imposes on public sidewalks outside its building are violations of the Constitution.
The defendants include the museum, director Lonnie Bunch III and other officials.
The suit alleges their actions violate the First and Fifth Amendments as well as the federal Religious Freedom Restoration act.
The pro-lifers use hand-held signs to portray the devastation of abortion on the black community, pointing out while black women are 11 percent of the population, they are victims in 36 percent of abortions.
They contend Planned Parenthood and “abortion care” have “suppressed the black vote more effectively that poll taxes, literacy tests, voter ID requirements, and Ku Klux Klan lynchings combined.”
The signs also point out that by 2014, 18 million African-American babies had been killed, calling it a “black genocide.”
The lawsuit asserts the museum hides from its visitors “the fact that abortion is disproportionately harming the African American community” and celebrates supporters of abortion.
“For example, NMAAHC promotes the movement called Black Lives Matter (‘BLM’). BLM is viciously pro-abortion. In a news article published in July 2016, the BLM perspective was explained as follows: ‘Anti-choice activists attempt to hijack Black Lives Matter to shame women for abortion,’ asserting that ‘[e]quating the loss of actual people to gun violence with abortion serves to make [a] mockery of the deaths of real people, as if they had no greater value than that of an embryo.’
“As another example, Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, was pro-abortion, demanding even public funding for the abortions which savage the African American community with black genocide. His tenure is nonetheless celebrated by NMAAHC. On the other hand, Just[ice] Clarence Thomas, an African American currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, is pro-life. His tenure, however, is defiantly denied the slightest mention in any exhibit appearing in this hyper-politicized institution known as NMAAHC.”
Museum officials, accompanied by armed officers, had ordered the pro-life team carrying signs to move to the opposite side of a street on which a constant stream of buses blocked the view for passersby.