Police Violated Rights of Harford Activists, Judge Rules

… Police ordered anti-abortion group to remove graphic posters, then arrested demonstrators …

baltimoresun.com

By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

3:16 PM EDT, July 15, 2011

A federal judge has ruled that police in Harford County violated the constitutional rights of seven demonstrators who staged an anti-abortion display along a state highway near Bel Air three years ago.

When motorists complained about the graphic nature of the posters, the state police ordered the demonstrators, members of the Alliance Defense Fund, to leave the county. Bennett’s ruling, issued Thursday in U.S. District Court, said police infringed on the group’s right to free speech. Police subsequently arrested the demonstrators, saying they had failed to obey a lawful order. Bennett upheld the group’s claim that the arrests violated due process.

Soon after the incident, the state dropped charges, which included loitering and disorderly conduct. The case will now proceed to a jury trial for the assessment of damages only.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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