Pro-Life Mississippi is suing the Jackson Police Department.
According to the complaint, filed in federal court in Jackson this afternoon, the group alleges that JPD "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.”
Plaintiffs say the harassment dates back to 1996 and recent examples of the alleged harassment 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.
The suit was filed one day after a pro-life group posted a video online of what they say are "Jackson police standing by as an individual stole the group’s prolife display" near the Jackson Women's Health Clinic, Mississippi's only abortion clinic.
Defendants named in the suit including Lindsey Horton, whose retirement was announced on July 21, Commander James McGowan and several other JPD officers.
Shelia Byrd, city hall spokeswoman, declined comment citing the pending litigation.