Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The head of a Kansas-based pro-life group is demanding an apology and monetary damages after the driver of a pro-life truck was illegally arrested and his truck impounded in Atlanta.

Bob Roethlisberger was arrested and jailed over Thanksgiving weekend in a northern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, on the charge of "disorderly conduct" for driving Operation Rescue's "Truth Truck" bearing signs with photos of aborted babies. The truck subsequently was impounded, and was released late Monday.

Gwinnett County Police Department officers arrested Roethlisberger Saturday after telling him that signage on the Truth Truck was "vulgar and obscene." According to the pro-life group, officers "ransacked" the back of the Truth Truck without a warrant and ordered Roethlisberger to change or remove the signs. When he refused, he was arrested and incarcerated for three days before being released on $1,000 bond.

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman says the officers' action were a violation of constitutional rights and illegal.

"These officers actually took a utility knife and cut these signs off of our completely legal, registered, and insured vehicle, and incarcerated our driver," the pro-life leader explains. "I would think this is an abuse of power, and we're going to use all civil remedies to rectify the situation."

Newman alleges that the officers punished Roethlisberger, who otherwise cooperated with authorities, for expressing a viewpoint with which they disagreed. "[Bob] refused to compromise on his message," notes Newman, "which is unequivocally protected by the First Amendment." In addition, he points out the legal right to display the images on the trucks has been upheld in courts across the nation.

But the illegal arrest and destruction of property by the police does prove one thing, Newman asserts. "If these pictures are so graphic and horrible that we don't want to see them, perhaps we shouldn't be tolerating the act of abortion," he shares.


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