Student abortion protesters arrested

  • October 6, 2010
Carleton University pro-life club arrestOttawa - Five students who attempted to put up a graphic anti-abortion display on the campus of Carleton University Oct. 4 were handcuffed and arrested by Ottawa police.

The students were detained for a short time and issued tickets for “failing to leave the premises when directed” and for “engaging in activity prohibited on the premises,” said Craig Stewart, 24, a fourth-year Carleton student who was among those arrested.

The tickets carry fines totalling $130. “We’re going to contest them,” said Stewart.

Stewart said Carleton Lifeline had planned to mount the display in the campus quadrangle where lots of students pass.

“We were refused entry into the quadrangle and told to take down our signs,” he said.

When the students refused to leave, the campus police called in the Ottawa police, who put the five in handcuffs and took them to the police station.

“We co-operated with the arrest,” Stewart said. One member did get into a scuffle with a campus police officer, however, when he tried to take away the posters, he said.

Three days earlier, Carleton Lifeline had used various online media to announce that it would display six four-by-eight-foot posters of  “bloody images from the controversial Genocide Awareness Project” (GAP) that “graphically compares abortion to historical atrocities such as the Holocaust.”

Stewart said Carleton LifeLine had been negotiating with the university to set up the controversial display. The university had offered a compromise, but Stewart said the room they offered was in a “segregated” area away from places where students would see it.

“We said we were going to go ahead anyway,” he said.

University spokesman Jason McDonald told SunMedia that Carleton was trying to find a balance.

“Those types of displays aren’t permitted in the Quad,” he said. “This particular display has been found by courts and human rights tribunals in other jurisdictions to be offensive.”

Stewart said the Quad has been used for displays of other forms of student activism.

He said pro-life groups have had a difficult time on the Carleton campus, while other kinds of activism are “supported and endorsed within the university.”

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