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JPD sued for civil rights violations

A YouTube video shows Jackson police standing by as a man steals a pro-life group's signs. Source: WLBT archives A YouTube video shows Jackson police standing by as a man steals a pro-life group's signs. Source: WLBT archives
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

On Wednesday, Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a lawsuit against the City of Jackson Police Department.

The not-for-profit law firm is representing Pro-Life Mississippi in the case charging the city's law enforcement division with blatant and ongoing violation of free speech rights of pro-life advocates.

Dana Cody, President and Executive Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, explained the case: "The Jackson Police Department has routinely harassed pro-life citizens, who have been peacefully exercising their legal right to oppose abortion in the public square and offer information about life-affirming alternatives to women seeking abortion."

This case comes after a Youtube video was posted on July 17, showing an Ohio-based pro-life group, Created Equal, demonstrating in front of Mississippi's only abortion clinic, located in Jackson.  

The video shows Jackson police standing by as an individual removes the group's prolife display. 

As a group member asked an officer to do something about it, the policeman responded by saying, "I'm dealing with something right now."

The law firm says repeated Jackson Police Department harassment of pro-life advocates on the public ways dates back to before 1996. They say recent documented incidents include:

• June 2014 - Threats of arrest for exiting a parked vehicle to share pro-life literature on a public sidewalk

• March 2014 - Multiple threats of arrest and orders that pro-life speakers relocate, including those who met to pray against abortion

• February 2014 and December 2013 - Arrests of those with pro-life signs or literature for sitting in chairs on public property or public right of ways

• January 2014 - Detainment and threats of arrest for noise violations for those speaking – without amplification – about pro-life matters

• October 2013 and April 2013 - Threats to arrest those with pro-life signs or literature for sitting in chairs or public property or public right of ways

• March 2013 and February 2013 - Arrests of those with holding pro-life signs for obstructing a public sidewalk

Cody added, "For police to be selective and prejudicial as to how they enforce the law outside of Mississippi's only abortion vendor does a disservice to the people of Jackson. When those charged with upholding the law violate the basic rights of citizens, it cannot be tolerated. Life Legal Defense Foundation intends to pursue all legal remedies necessary to stop this targeted persecution of those who promote the sanctity of human life."

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