TUCSON, AZ − September 12, 2014. Roy Spears filed a Complaint today against the City of Tucson and city officials in United States District Court of Arizona, challenging a policy that bans him from expressing his pro-life views on a sidewalk adjacent to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Tucson. Spears is represented by the Center for Religious Expression (CRE).
While trying to share his message to willing listeners on a sidewalk next to Margaret Sanger Health Center, a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, Spears was stopped by a Tucson police officer on September 16, 2013, who threatened to arrest Spears if he did not immediately leave the area. Though the sidewalk is open to the public, the officer characterized the sidewalk as private property and claimed Sears was committing trespass. Fearing arrest, Spears left the area and has not tried to share his message on that sidewalk since receiving the warning.
Spears attempted to resolve the matter informally with the city, but the city attorney stood behind the actions of the police officers.
“Spears seeks relief in federal court so he can share his pro-life message without the prospect of criminal arrest,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. Kellum emphasized the constitutional right at stake. “In places where we are free to walk, we should also be free to talk.”