A lawsuit was filed in the US Middle District Court on Thursday, April 2, claiming that the civil rights of four people arrested near the abortion clinic on Randleman Road were violated.
The federal lawsuit was filed against Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Greensboro Police Lt. Dan Knott in their official capacities.
The federal lawsuit was filed by Paul Nisely, Josiah Chavez, David Troyer and Jolene Troyer, who were among those the Greensboro Police Department has arrested near A Woman’s Choice of Greensboro at 2425 Randleman Road.
The lawsuit states, “Their activities consist primarily in walking and praying on public ways outside the abortion clinic in order to share alternatives and inform the women going to the clinic of the dangers inherent in abortion.”
The lawsuit claims that their rights guaranteed by the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution had been violated and requests a “temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction prohibiting the Defendants from enforcing the Stay Home Order and/or EO 121 [Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order] against them for their peaceful expressive activities.”
According to the lawsuit, those arrested were engaged in an essential outdoor activity permitted by both the Guilford County and the state stay-at-home orders.
Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts said that it was not the activity of walking around and praying that led to the arrests of the individuals but the violation of the essence of both the Guilford County and the state orders.
He said, “That’s what the stay-at-home order is all about – stay at home.”
Watts noted that all of those arrested were from other counties and that there was no reason that they could not walk around and pray in their home counties rather than traveling to Greensboro and possibly putting the health and safety of the people of Greensboro at risk.
Watts said that if those arrested had been from that neighborhood he didn’t think the city would have a case but because they traveled to Greensboro to participate in an activity that they could have participated in at home it was a violation of the order.
The lawsuit claims that the people arrested traveled to Greensboro because they wanted to participate in a permitted activity – walking around and praying in front of this abortion clinic.
It will be up to the federal court to decide whether the constitutional rights of these four were violated or not.
The Raleigh News & Observer, in an article on Tuesday, April 1, noted that no one in the Research Triangle area had been arrested for violating the stay-at-home order. According to Watts, Greensboro has made at least 11 arrests, all near the abortion clinic on Randleman Road.