Miraculously, rescuers avoid arrest as police, city manager bully pro-life prayer warriors.
Wilkes-Barre, PA — The Prayer for Life Tour detoured to Wilkes-Barre, PA on Tuesday, October 19, where Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry was scheduled to speak. An encounter with local police turned ugly when a decision was made to infringe the ability of the group to express their message to their targeted audience.

Pro-lifers began to set up banners across the street from the F. M. Kirby Center where hundreds of Kerry supporters stood in lines in the rain to await Kerry’s arrival. Some of the Kerry people brought large signs across the street to attempt to block the pro-life banners. Police intervened and sent the Kerry people back across the street, but insisted that the pro-lifers also move to a location where they could not be seen by those outside the Kirby Center.
Pro-lifers were told that they could not remain on the street corner because they may cause a disturbance by raising their voices. “That would be annoying,” one officer told OR staffer Cheryl Sullenger, “and it is against the law to be annoying. There’s a city ordinance against it.”

When Sullenger questioned the legality of their orders to be quiet and move to an obscure location, officers on foot and horseback began screaming and threatened the pro-lifers with arrest for quietly holding signs on the public sidewalk, and at one point, drove their horses into the startled group.

Upon discussions with the Police Captain and Chief of Police, an agreement was reached to allow pro-lifers to stand behind a barricade several yards from the Kerry venue. However, the City Manager arrived and ordered police to arrest anyone who did not move across the square to a place where they could not be seen.
Meanwhile, Troy Newman drove one of the Truth Trucks in front of the large Kerry crowd and began to address them with a bullhorn as he passed by. Apparently violating the Wilkes-Barre anti-annoyance ordinance, Newman was pulled over by an officer riding a horse. He was allowed to continue on only after promising not to use the bullhorn while in Wilkes-Barre.
Thankfully, there were no pro-lifers arrested, however, the First Amendment remains shackled in that sleepy little Pennsylvania community.
Read a story about this in the Times Leader.
Visit Prayer for Life 2004 Photo Gallery