Police ultimatum: allow reform group to demonstrate or be arrested
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 00:04
Two students were arrested Tuesday for interfering with the assembly of a non-profit group’s graphic pro-life display on Fairfield Way that exhibited pictures of aborted fetuses, including a poster that compared images of the Holocaust and lynching to an aborted fetus.
UConn police gave protestors an ultimatum – allow the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform group to set up their display or be arrested. All but two of the protestors yielded: Brenna Regan, an 8th-semester sociology and environmental justice double major, and Logan Place, a 6th-semester political science major. Both students were released on non-surety bonds.
Presented by CBR the display spurred outrage from students and an organized protest from the UConn group Students United for Reproductive Justice after CBR began their campaign Monday morning.
Brian McKinney, a CBR volunteer, said protesters circled the display Tuesday morning and would not allow CBR members to finish setting up a metal fence that surrounded the posters.
“The students were given multiple warnings that if they continued, there would be consequences,” McKinney said. “We have a permit to be here.”
Brenna Regan, who was arrested for trespassing in the 2nd-degree during the protest, said she is angered that the university administration protected the rights of CBR more than the rights of students who were upset by the images.
“We wanted to show that we were willing to go to extremes and stand up for what we believe in,” Regan said. “We pay thousands of dollars to be here and this is our space.”
Regan described the images on display as “imposing and attacking.” The posters included bloody images of aborted fetuses, detached baby heads and dismembered limbs.
The New England Regional director of CBR, Leslie Sneddon, said that the images are meant to help people understand the “indescribable evil” of abortion by providing a message that words cannot.
“We always get a lot of people upset with our message but we have people who thank us later,” Sneddon said. “I’ve had four abortions … If there is a woman that comes to terms with reality, that leads her from a place of denial to a place of healing.”
Logan Place, who was also arrested Tuesday, said he was happy that over 40 students protested the display after SURJ hosted a meeting Monday night.
“As horrific as it was, it provided an opportunity for students to make sure people have the accurate information,” Place said.
Place said the UConn police officers were polite and asked him if he was sure he wanted to be arrested rather than allow CBR to set up their display.
“If the UConn Police would rather arrest UConn students than stop a hate speech, so be it,” Place said.
CBR presents their display at 20 to 25 universities a year. Sneddon said she is not deterred by the outcry from the student population and the two arrests made.
“I’m respectful of their passion,” Sneddon said of the two students who were arrested. “I hope one day [Regan] will be standing on our side.”
Protestors started chanting and wielding signs with phrases like “my body, my choice” at 6 a.m., an hour before CBR members arrived on campus.
“[CBR] have their right to speech,” said protestor Marichris Cariaga, a 6th-semester nursing major. “It’s the fact that they have these giant banners subjecting everyone to these images. It’s not fair the administration is overlooking the mental health of students … this is our campus.”