Two Students for Life activists were arrested on Saturday for attempting to chalk “black pre-born lives matter” on the sidewalk outside of a D.C. Planned Parenthood office; the apparent legal charge was “defacing property.”
Prior to the event, the Students for Life of America (SFLA) obtained a police permit and wrote Mayor Bowser a letter explaining the nature of their event, as reported by the Washington Post.
The letter, in part, said:
“Having opened the streets of your city for public expression, Students for Life of America (SFLA) and The Frederick Douglass Foundation (FDF) requests the opportunity to add our voices to those concerned about the treatment of people of color in America. Black Lives do matter, born and preborn, as too many people are lost in America today from causes that should be addressed and prevented for their disproportionate impact on minority communities….”
SFLA Executive Vice President Tina Whittington also released a statement before the event, saying, “We know from Planned Parenthood’s racist founder Margaret Sanger that ending black lives was a goal of the organization, and given the placement of Planned Parenthood abortion vendors and their marketing campaigns, that practice continues. But pro-life people in Washington, D.C. and across the country want to make it clear that every life matters and deserves a future.”
The group originally planned on painting “black pre-born lives matter” on the street, but when they arrived early Sunday morning, there were multiple police officers on the scene who said they were not allowed to paint the street.
Two members of the group, Warner DePriest and Erica Caporaletti, took children’s chalk and began chalking the message on the sidewalk. “ They were promptly arrested with no Miranda warning and no charges explained until 40 minutes after the arrest,” reported the SFLA in a statement. “When charges were explained, they weren’t valid – trespassing on private property (false, as the area in question was public sidewalk) and defacement (false, as sidewalk chalk would’ve been gone with the next rain)."
According to The Post, “It is illegal for people to write or mark on any public or private property without a permit. The District’s Department of Transportation, which issues permits, did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.”
After being released, they went back to the event where Caporaletti told bystanders, “This is government censorship.”
Lauren Marlowe, a SFLA member who was present at the event, took to Instagram afterward to express her anger for how their event was treated. “The past few months, hundreds of thousands of violent protesters have been demolishing cities and inflicting millions of dollars of damage, largely free of consequence or regulation; yet suddenly, children’s chalk has become an arrestable offense,” Marlowe began.
“Make no mistake , this is democratic government censorship,” she said. “The same mayor who three weeks ago was painting ‘black lives matter’ and ‘defund the police’ on the streets, paving the way for this manner of artistic expression, turned around and ordered the police to prevent the message of ‘black preborn lives matter’ from being painted with washable street paint/children’s chalk.”
According to the Washington Post, the SFLA plans on suing Mayor Bowser "on the grounds that the police action violated their First Amendment rights."