Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grad Student Prayed Rosary on Sidewalk Outside Chicago Planned Parenthood and was Arrested:

Thomas More Society Enters 'Not Guilty' Plea for First Arrestee Under Chicago's Abortion Clinic 'Bubble Zone' Ordinance

CHICAGO, July 27 /Christian Newswire/ -- This morning, Thomas More Society attorney Peter Breen entered a "not guilty" plea to the charge of disorderly conduct on behalf of Joseph Holland, the first person arrested under the new Chicago "Bubble Zone" ordinance, which prevents certain types of picketing activity outside local abortion clinics. Holland, a Northwestern University graduate student, was praying the rosary on a public sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood Near North abortion facility on July 3 when staff called the police, claiming that he had violated the new ordinance.

The "Bubble Zone" ordinance prohibits approaching within eight feet of a person, without consent, "for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling." According to witnesses and available video, Holland was engaged solely in prayer activity and not in leafleting, picketing or "sidewalk counseling." Video of Holland's alleged disorderly conduct can be found online here.

"This arrest was about one thing: trying to scare pro-life people away from Planned Parenthood," said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel. "Joe Holland did nothing wrong -- his only 'crime' was having the temerity to exercise his First Amendment rights on a public sidewalk. We look forward to defending Joe and others like him against the City of Chicago's false charges." During consideration of the new ordinance, Breen presented testimony that the "Bubble Zone" ordinance is unconstitutional, a position with which the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois agreed.

Thomas More Society attorneys today also served subpoenas on Planned Parenthood for security footage of the alleged disorderly conduct and on the City of Chicago for the 911 tapes of the calls placed by Planned Parenthood. The Thomas More Society is also representing David Avignone, the second arrestee under the "Bubble Zone" ordinance. Holland's next appearance is August 3, and Avignone's first appearance will be August 30.

About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.