The leader of a pro-life group faces six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for a large panel truck outfitted with graphic, billboard-sized images of abortion and anti-abortion messages.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue West, was arrested Thursday on a misdemeanor building code violation that bans portable signs from public streets in Bel Aire, Kan., a suburb of Wichita.
One of Operation Rescue’s Truth Trucks (Photo: Operation Rescue)
Operation Rescue said Newman repeatedly had parked the truck in the neighborhood of Carrie Klaege, office manager for Women’s Health Care Services, an abortion clinic owned by George Tiller. Pro-life groups have protested against the owner, dubbing him “Tiller the Killer.”
The city building inspector threatened to impound Newman’s vehicle, telling him to “take the truck and never come back.”
Operation Rescue calls Bel Aire City Attorney Lee E. Parker’s charge against Newman an “outrageous act of contempt for the First Amendment.”
Parker says the truck violates a building code that bans use of signs “calculated to attract the attention of the public.”
Newman’s attorney, Michael DePrimo, chief litigation counsel of the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, expects to file a suit in federal court within the next few weeks.
“Although the ordinance mentions a long list of exemptions to the ordinance, apparently the exercise of the constitutional right to freedom of speech was not one of them,” Operation Rescue said in a statement.
Newman was cited and released by Bel Aire Chief of Police Charles Quinn.
“The Truth Truck has now been outlawed in the first American city ever,” Newman said. “Apparently the City of Bel Aire will stop at nothing to make sure that the public never knows the truth about what its resident, abortion profiteer Carrie Klaege, does for a living.”