Yesterday, police in Jackson, Mississippi, stood idly by as vandals systematically stole signs right in front of them that had been erected by pro-life group Created Equal.
As the following video shows, police first acknowledged Created Equal had the constitutional right to hold a protest on a public sidewalk in Jackson, as corroborated by their city attorney.
The protest was held both in front of and across the street from Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic remaining in Mississippi.
Incredibly, the owner of one of the businesses in front of which Created Equal had erected its display began taking signs with the help of two accomplices – while the police stood by and watched!
Over the course of 20 minutes Mike Peters (pictured left), owner and developer of Fondren Corner, a four-story complex of private residences, offices, and restaurants, and two other men slowly removed nine sandwich boards, for a total of 18 signs, and took them inside his building.
Eight police officers witnessed the theft, one who stood right in front of Peters (photo above), but did nothing.
“They told me they had to wait for their commander,” Mark Harrington, Executive Director of Created Equal, said in a phone interview. “But I told them that was ridiculous. Would they wait for permission to arrest if they saw someone stealing from Wal-Mart?”
An hour after the theft the commander showed up, went in and spoke with Peters, and the signs were returned.
Created Equal is pressing charges against Peters and are considering filing a lawsuit against the city.
Coincidentally, Life Legal Defense Fund is dropping a lawsuit against the Jackson Police Department within the next few days for harassment and false arrests of pro-lifers.
After pro-life activists sued Jackson police in 2006, the city signed a consent decree agreeing officers would no longer interfere with the free speech rights of pro-life advocates.
But as soon as the Court’s jurisdiction over the decree expired, Jackson police resumed their anti-life ways, as evidenced yesterday.
Created Equal has already had quite a summer, and it has only begun. On June 9 it made national news after an abortion proponent attacked another of its protests.
Created Equal is currently in the midst of its annual “Summer Justice Ride,” a nine-day national bus tour from July 12-20 that this year is retracing the route of the original Freedom Riders of the 1960s.