A school principal in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has thrown a fit over a pro-life organization whose members were on “my” sidewalk to let students know the dangers of abortion.
And now his board is faced with the decision of issuing an apology or potentially facing significant court costs if the group seeks a court injunction against such behavior in the future.
The rant by Carlton Mable, the principal of South Side High School, who, according to a letter to the board from the Thomas More Society, “aggressively approached” and “verbally accosted” the pro-life activists, was caught on video.
Here it is:
He also made “less than veiled threats,” “mischaracterized a public sidewalk as being school property,” “asserted a false right to ‘protect’ students from being exposed to speech he deemed inappropriate,” and “forcefully took … property … and threw it in the street,” the letter said.
“In the presence of many students, he thereby flouted and squelched our clients’ First Amendment rights,” it said.
The legal team said the events developed Nov. 18.
“Mable, in front of students, tried to block pro-life advocates from displaying abortion-condemning signs on the public right of way and prohibit them from providing students with pro-life information, even going so far as to physically wrest a sign away from one pro-life advocate before throwing it to the ground,” the Thomas More Society said.
Eventually, the principal’s antics were halted by police, the law firm said.
WND attempted to get comment from the school, but a telephone number listed for the superintendent rang unanswered on Thursday.
Now a letter has been sent on behalf of the organization, Created Equal, and its individuals, asking for assurances of the “continued protection of the pro-life advocates’ constitutionally guaranteed rights.”
The Thomas More Society characterized Mable’s actions as “a tirade” and recounted how he told Created Equal members “not to approach ‘my kids’ and to get off ‘my property.'”
Then he threw signs into a busy street.
“Mable’s behavior is another example of what’s occurring on high school and college campuses across the country. Shielding young adults from difficult subjects, like abortion, does not prepare them for the real world,” Thomas More said.
“Principal Mable trampled on rights that are enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Articles 2, 3, 4 and 9 of the Indiana Constitution, and are fiercely protected by the United States Supreme Court. Our clients insist on the respect to which they are entitled. We seek written apologies from Principal Mable and School Board Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson, assurances from the school board that this will not happen again, and guarantees from the city of Fort Wayne that it will continue to uphold free speech rights,” the letter stated.
“If you are not willing and able to meet our clients’ demands, we will seek, and most certainly obtain, an injunction from our federal court providing our clients with protections we are requesting herein. As you may be aware, if we go to and prevail in court, you will be required to pay our attorneys’ fees, which in these types of cases can be very substantial.”
Mark Harrington, national director of Created Equal, added: “Pro-life activists have been experiencing an increase in vandalism and violence at high school campuses across the country. Unfortunately, to some school officials, public sidewalks are considered their own private property in which they feel they can wield control and censor free speech. Creating unconstitutional ‘safe zones’ in the public square where students can be shielded from unpleasant subjects does a disservice to our youth, and does not prepare these young adults for the real world.”