Officers with Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Police Department arrested two pro-life protesters early Saturday morning for attempting to write “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter” in chalk in front of a Planned Parenthood facility even though representatives of the groups’ Students for Life of America (SLA) and the Frederick Douglass Foundation (FDF) said they had the necessary permit to do so.
According to SLA and FDF leaders, the organization had received a permit to paint “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter” with temporary paint on the street at their event directly in front of the abortion facility.
“We were told verbally that we would not be prevented from painting and what kind of paint to buy,” said Students for Life spokesperson Kristi Hamrick in an email to the Washington Times, adding that the group was told to use non-permanent tempera paint.
The group says DC Mayor Muriel Bowser allowed the painting of the slogan “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on a public street. The city also allowed activists to paint other messages on city streets, including “Defund the Police.”
Upon the SLA’s arrival at the abortion facility, they were greeted by six DC police cars. The group had planned to use the temporary paint they had purchased at police insistence, but officers told them they could not use it. Then some members of the group asked if they could use sidewalk chalk to write their message instead. A college student and an SLA staff member began writing on the sidewalk and according to video and other media outlet accounts, a police officer approached the two and told them they would be arrested if they continued.
Erica Caporaletti, a 22-year-old student at Towson University, and Warner DePriest, a 29-year-old DC resident were arrested and charged with defacing public or private property, according to DC police. According to the Washington Post, the two were held for about an hour before they returned to the Planned Parenthood facility.
“This is government censorship,” Caporaletti said through a bullhorn, with a Planned Parenthood sign behind her and a “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter” poster between her and a small crowd.
CBN News contributor John Wesley Reid interviewed the two people who were arrested by MPD officers.
A spokesperson for the MPD told the Washington Times the group received a permit to hold a rally in front of the Planned Parenthood facility, but not to paint the street.
“MPD did not issue a permit to paint a message on the street,” she said in an email. “MPD issues permits to assemble. Any markings on the street would have to be permitted by the DC Department of Transportation.”
Live Action tweeted video of the two being arrested, writing:
“It’s a sad day in America when human rights advocates are hauled away in handcuffs for writing ‘black preborn lives matter’ in chalk on a sidewalk, while killers 20 yards away at @PPFA are slaughtering innocent babies with impunity & applause. RT!”
Tina Whittington, vice president for SLA, told MRCTV her organization will be suing Mayor Bowser for “violating our 1st Amendment rights.”