Both the City of Greensboro and Guilford County are being sued for the continued arrests and threats of arrests of pro-life advocates by the Greensboro Police Department.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed the 42-page lawsuit in the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro on Tuesday, April 14, on behalf of Global Impact Ministries, which does business as Love Life.
The lawsuit claims that the First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights of Love Life personnel and affiliates were violated by Greensboro police officers arresting some of those associated with Love Life and for stating that others could not walk down the public sidewalk and pray in the vicinity of A Woman’s Choice abortion clinic at 2425 Randleman Road or they would be arrested for violating the Guilford County stay-at-home order.
The lawsuit states that Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts “offered his legal opinion that the Order authorized the City to suspend First Amendment activities for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.”
The lawsuit notes that all the times when Love Life associates were arrested or threatened with arrest by Greensboro police officers they had not gathered in a group of more than 10 and were in keeping with the six foot separation social distancing requirement of the stay-at-home order.
The lawsuit states that “City Attorney Watts stated that under the Order, individuals may travel by foot but not by car to engage in outdoor activities.”
Participating in “outdoor activities,” which according to the definition includes “walking,” is an essential activity and permitted under the stay-at-home order.
This is the second lawsuit that has been filed over the arrest and threats of arrest of Love Life associates by Greensboro police officers.
After the first lawsuit was filed, which involved people from outside of Guilford County traveling to Guilford County to walk and pray near the abortion clinic, Watts said that the issue was travel. He said, “If they were local people from that area I don’t think we’d have a legal leg to stand on.”
Some of the arrests noted in the most recent lawsuit involve people from Greensboro, including Rev. Lee Stokes who is the pastor of Destiny Christian Center right down Randleman Road from the abortion clinic. He was stopped by police when walking on the sidewalk from his church to A Woman’s Choice and was told by police that he could not walk down the sidewalk while praying because “praying” was considered a demonstration and demonstrations were not allowed under the stay-at-home order.
The lawsuit requests a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction.