(CNSNews.com) -- A small group of pro-lifers returned Wednesday to sing Christmas carols at the same abortion clinic in Falls Church, Virginia where they were shut down by police less than a week earlier for allegedly violating a city noise ordinance.
The group of about 10 carolers, led by Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, sang Silent Night and other Christmas carols in pouring rain for about an hour outside the clinic Wednesday afternoon.
Mary Flores, a mother of six who came to sing with two of her children, described what happened when the group came to sing carols outside the clinic last week.
“We were just here on Saturday caroling and wanting to share our Christmas joy with people who come to this desolate place on a regular basis,” she told CNSNews.com.
Flores said that before the clinic escorts called the police, they approached the carolers a few times and told them not to block the sidewalk. The pro-lifers then stood on a small strip of grass next to it.
When the Falls Church police showed up, they also told the carolers not to block the city sidewalk, “which we were not doing,” said Flores.
The police also informed them that they were breaking a noise ordinance by singing publicly on the street.
One officer reportedly cited Section 14-51 of the Falls Church Code of Ordinances, which states: “"It shall be unlawful for any person to yell, shout, talk loudly, whistle or sing on any public street or private property in the city at anytime, so as to cause a noise disturbance. This section shall not apply to any person who is participating in a duly permitted or licensed event or who has been duly authorized to engage in such conduct."
“We were so certain that it was illegal that we planned to come back today to test that ordinance, and there were people who were willing to risk arrest to come and exercise our First Amendment rights and sing on the street in Falls Church,” Flores told CNSNews.com.
However, Susan Finarelli, the city’s communications director, later clarified that “without amplified sound or disrupting neighbors or businesses, singing is not considered a violation.”
“They tried to silence us here. They tried to move us off the sidewalk, which they succeeded in doing; we had to stay here on the grass,” Flores told CNSNews.com. “But it was actually they who didn’t have ground to stand on because immediately the police backed down after Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the police chief here in Falls Church."
“No city ordinance can trump the First Amendment. It’s preposterous to think that any noise ordinance can or should be used to stop the singing of Christmas carols on a public sidewalk,” ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman said.
“We have come to an odd place in America when an abortion business thinks it can silence Christmas carolers. The police should not be willing to do their bidding.”
Flores and her children were joined by locals Katey Moore, Caitlin Orr, Larry Cirignano, Patrick Murray, and Ryan Orr, leader of the St. Gianna’s Pro-life Club in Gainesville, Virginia which comes once a month to pray at the abortion clinic.
“I believe this is the greatest civil rights movement of our time,” Ryan Orr said, adding that the clinic escorts had been yelling at the pro-lifers for over a half hour before the police showed up.
Rev. Mahoney thanked the carolers for exercising their First Amendment rights. “You are living out the very founding principles of our nation,” he told them.
“And as I’m looking around, no police officers! They got the memo loud and clear. And you, from your powerful witness, stood up not only so people could sing carols on a public sidewalk, but so people all across the country could be free to air their views in public, whatever those views might be, whatever those values might be.
“So thank you for your courage,” he said.