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Police Brutality at the Democratic National Convention: Two Minor Girls Arrested for Sidewalk Chalking Near Senator Obama's Hotel

Contact: Danielle Versluys, Survivors, 909-213-5339

DENVER, Aug. 28 /Christian Newswire/ -- On Wednesday, August 27, police officers brutally arrested two teenage girls, ages 15 and 17, near Senator Obama's Denver hotel. The young women, Julia Giacopuzzi and Jayne White, were writing messages in sidewalk chalk on the public sidewalk when the police officers rushed in and violently arrested the girls without warning or provocation.

The girls are members of the pro-life youth organization Survivors, and were in Denver during the Democratic National Convention to call attention to Senator Barack Obama's pro-abortion position as part of A Prayer for Change.

Throughout the DNC, the youth of Survivors were using sidewalk chalk throughout the city of Denver with the permission of City Attorney David Fine and Denver Deputy Chief of Police John Lamb. It was understood by the young women that sidewalk chalk was an accepted medium, and they were given no warning by the police before being cuffed and dragged away.

View video of the arrests: http://www.youtube.com/v/3Ev3QO3NzbM

Jayne White, age 17, was rushed from behind by a police officer and pushed face-down on the ground. He slammed his knee into the back of the young woman's neck as she lay on the concrete without resisting. The officer forcefully pulled her arms behind her back and cuffed her.

Miss White states, "I was peacefully sidewalk chalking when I was forcefully pushed to ground by a police officer from behind. As I was being cuffed on the ground, the police officer pushed his knee into the back of my neck. I was pulled roughly off the ground and taken away. I was given no warning to stop and was completely shocked when I was arrested. My back was throbbing from his knee."

Julia Giacopuzzi, age 15, was surprised by a police officer twisting her arms behind her back and using them to lift her off the ground to be handcuffed.

Miss Giacopuzzi comments, "As I was sidewalk chalking, I was rushed by a police officer without warning and lifted up off the ground and was cuffed. I was then dragged by the police into the Westin Hotel."

View photos of the young women arrested: http://www.earnedmedia.org/Jayne_Julia.htm

Also arrested was the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition of Washington, DC. Rev. Mahoney was arrested and threatened with a felony for leading the event.

Danielle Versluys, Director of Special Events for the Survivors and coordinator of the Survivors events surrounding the DNC, states, "after months of negotiations and civil conversations with the City Attorney's office and local police in advance of our events, I am horrified and outraged at the treatment of these two girls. Not only were they legally expressing their opinions on the public sidewalk, but they were doing so peacefully and without incident. The officers acted without provocation, and should be ashamed of themselves for terrorizing two young women.

"As a Colorado resident, I am also appalled that the City of Denver boasted of the city's preparation for the convention but clearly neglected to train their police force to respect the First Amendment and the rights of citizens to peacefully demonstrate.

"I witnessed the crushing of free speech in Denver this week. It is tragic that as we encourage young people to be involved in their communities and be politically active, city police discourage community involvement by brutalizing young teens. The City of Denver sent a clear message to civic-minded young people this week: the First Amendment doesn't apply here."

Jayne White and Julia Giacopuzzi, the two young women arrested, are available for comment. To arrange an interview, please contact Jeff White at 909-744-4479.

Danielle Versluys is also available for comment at 909-213-5339.