Pro-Life: From the Executive Director

May 2, 2008 @

Posted by: Admin on Friday, May 02, 2008 – 07:29 AM PST

Dear Friends of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF),

On May 12, 2007, Jeff White, and other members of the pro-life group Survivors, went to the Family Planning Associates Abortion Clinic in San Bernardino to hand out baby blankets and Mother’s Day cards to women coming from and going into the clinic. A few individuals held signs and banners on the public sidewalk, while others wrote “Happy Mother’s Day” in chalk on the public sidewalk in front of the clinic.

A security guard for the abortion clinic was outraged at this behavior, and called the police. Upon arrival, the San Bernardino City Police Department told the group that they could not chalk on the sidewalk because it was considered “vandalism” in violation of California Penal Code § 594. The police ordered all group members, including Mr. White’s 4-year-old son, to immediately stop drawing on the sidewalk or they would be arrested. When the police officers realized that “sidewalk chalk” did not meet the legal requirements set forth in the Penal Code, they turned their attention to the signs being held on the sidewalk.

The officers advised the pro-lifers that it was illegal to hold a sign on a public sidewalk without first getting the approval of the City of San Bernardino. However, the police officers did not read the statute correctly.

California Penal Code § 556 prohibits placing any sign, used for commercial advertising, on public property without first getting permission from the owner. Mr. White’s sign, as well as the others’, depicted an unborn child in the mother’s womb and explained the various stages of fetal development. This in NO WAY could be characterized as a commercial advertisement. Despite this, police cited Mr. White for violating Penal Code § 556 and they confiscated the sign!

The police officers called the San Bernardino Fire Department to the scene to hose off the “graffiti” on the sidewalk. The police officers demanded that the entire group leave the area so that the fire department could hose off the “Happy Mother’s Day” messages chalked on the sidewalk in front of the clinic. The group refused to leave the area completely, but did agree to move off of the sidewalk to allow the fire department to remove the “graffiti.” Mr. White maintained his position on the sidewalk, and so the police officers arrested Mr. White for allegedly interfering with a firefighter while he was performing his duties.

USJF agreed to represent Mr. White in the prosecution. The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office demanded that USJF file a formal written demurrer, which essentially stated that the facts alleged in the accusatory pleading failed to constitute a crime. Once the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office read the motion, they agreed to dismiss both cases and conceded that no crime had, in fact, occurred.

On July 7, 2007, Jeff White, and other members of Survivors, went to Laguna Beach to share their pro-life message with beachgoers and motorists passing by. This has become an annual event during the Surviviors’ “Pro-life Training Camp.” A few individuals held signs and banners on the public sidewalk, while others handed out literature promoting the pro-life position.

Laguna Beach Police Department officers arrived on scene and attempted to stop the Survivors’ from speaking freely on a public sidewalk. Officer Peck contacted the police liaisons of the group and told them that the group was illegally standing on the sidewalk in violation of Laguna Beach Municipal Code (LBMC) § 10.10.060. The police instructed the Survivors to move their demonstration to a nearby grassy area. The Survivors tried to inform the Laguna Beach officers that it was NOT illegal for them to stand on a public sidewalk, hold a sign, and speak their political viewpoint on a controversial public issue.

The police cited Mr. White for standing on a public sidewalk and allegedly blocking pedestrian traffic. According to Officer Peck, Mr. White was the only person cited “because he was the leader of the group.” Section § 10.10.060 only prohibits remaining stationary on a public sidewalk if you obstruct free pedestrian traffic. To put it plainly, you can’t prevent others from passing by and using the sidewalk!

Fortunately, the Survivors documented their activities on the Laguna Beach Boardwalk. This video showed that the sidewalk was never blocked by any member of the group. Additionally, Officer Peck brought photographs taken by the police department itself to the trial in the case. These photos clearly depicted an entire family passing by the Survivors holding signs on the sidewalk – completely unobstructed.

USJF agreed to represent Mr. White in the criminal prosecution. The court dismissed all charges against Mr. White after the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof in its own case in chief. The court relied on the police departments own photos and the testimony of Officer Peck that “Mr. White did not prevent anyone from using the sidewalk” in finding Mr. White NOT GUILTY.

In His Name,
Gary G. Kreep
United States Justice Foundation
932 D Street Suite 2
Ramona, CA 92065
(760)788-6624 / (760)788-6414 fax

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