South Dakota College Violates First Amendment Rights; Pro-Life Youth Arrested in Campus Parking Lot
Contact: Kortney Blythe, Campus Life Tour Director, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, 704-778-2702
RAPID CITY, South Dakota, May 8 /Christian Newswire/ -- At approximately 11 a.m. yesterday morning, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology blocked a team of pro-life activists from setting foot on campus for free speech activities; one member was arrested.
The Campus Life Tours (CLT), a project of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, rallies a team of young people ages 18 – 30, who present the pro-life message to high school and college students across the country using graphic pictures and educational material.
Early Monday morning team member Joey Cox, 18, called the college administration to inform them of the team's visit and request information on the school's free speech policy.
Julie Smoragiewicz, Vice President for University and Public Relations, said previous permission must be attained two weeks in advance and threatened removal of the team.
When asked for the reasoning behind that length of time Smoragiewicz stated: "It's been a long-standing policy… it's just something that we've done in terms of making it convenient."
"Convenient for whom?" says CLT team member Brandon Davis. "For the past month, we have been on the road for over a thousand miles stopping at dozens of colleges to peacefully share information in a public forum, giving only a couple hours notice. This 'long-standing policy' spits in the face of our founding fathers and is a blatant violation of our constitutional right to free speech."
A copy of the policy revealed that these procedures apply only to solicitation on campus and make no mention of free speech activities without the sale of goods and services.
Upon the CLT team's arrival to the school, a blockade of administrators, police officers, and a squad car lined the sidewalk to bar entrance to the campus.
"No sooner had we pulled into visitor parking on campus, when a squad of administration and police swarmed our van demanding for us to leave. I tried negotiating with them, but obviously this college has a problem with peaceful First Amendment activity," says Kortney Blythe, Director of the Tours.
College administrators refused to discuss the situation with Blythe, and ignored warnings regarding the illegality of their actions. She attempted to reason with both the administrators and police officers, but according to Blythe, "the Constitution was thrown out the window and replaced with campus regulations that didn't even apply."
"The Campus Life Tour has visited dozens of schools this semester, and we have demonstrated our willingness to work with school officials time and time again," says Blythe. "But we absolutely refuse to give up our First Amendment right to free speech - a right for which Americans have fought and died. The lives of thousands of preborn babies are on the line, and we will not be bullied into leaving a campus before we even have a chance to speak to the students about the tragedy of abortion."
In spite of Blythe's negotiation attempts, police ignored the law and arrested Cox, claiming he trespassed on the campus.
Because of the actions of the administration and police officers, the Survivors will pursue a civil suit against the college for First Amendment violation, false arrest and the misuse of the time, place, and manner restrictions as determined by the United States Supreme Court.