Mary Margaret Olohan
The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department arrested two students Saturday morning for defacing property after they wrote pro-life messages in chalk, MPD told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Students for Life of America and the Frederick Douglass Foundation had planned to write the words “BLACK PREBORN LIVES MATTER” on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C. Saturday morning, according to a Students for Life press release. The group also said it obtained a permit for the event.
Pro-life students were arrested for writing "Black Pre-born Lives Matter" outside a Washington DC Planned Parenthood with chalk. pic.twitter.com/C3n1fSWUqw
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 1, 2020
Video footage captured by the Daily Caller News Foundation shows police arresting two students for chalking messages outside the abortion clinic. The students said they chalked outside the abortion clinic every week as part of an effort to persuade women not to get abortions.
MPD spokeswoman Alaina Gertz told the DCNF that the students were arrested for “the defacing of private/public property.” She said the students were “both citation released” and referred the DCNF to a description of what “Defacing public or private property” means.
Both advocacy groups had sent a July 20 letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser requesting permission to paint the words “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter” in order to “to celebrate the beautiful children with endless potential who are the future of their community and deserve the opportunity to make their mark in the world.”
Neither Bowser nor MPD immediately responded to requests for comment regarding the permit.
The incident took place in the 1200 block of 4th Street, Northeast, MPD confirmed.
Chalking messages is a common method of advocacy, particularly as protests and riots against racism and police brutality have erupted across the nation. Bowser had the slogan “Black Lives Matter” painted on a D.C. street in massive yellow letters in early June.
The DCNF asked MPD whether graffiti on the streets of D.C. done in the name of George Floyd or Black Lives Matter also counted as defacing of private/public property. MPD did not immediately respond to this question.
Protestors and rioters throughout the nation have chalked messages on streets and buildings against police, police brutality and racism.
As recently as January 2020, the nonprofit Speech First sued Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen as well as 14 other university administrators and nine members of the State Board of Regents, saying the school sought to restrict free speech by prohibiting chalking.
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