Pro-Life league: We won't meet with Lake Zurich cops before protests

 
and Kristina Hauptmann
 
Updated 7/26/2010 4:30 PM

Lawyers for an anti-abortion group said in a letter to Lake Zurich police that they have urged the Pro-Life Action League to continue demonstrating without first meeting with village officials.

In response to a letter sent from Lake Zurich Police Chief Patrick Finlon, lawyers for the Pro-Life Action League said they have told the group to "continue its current course of action," and demonstrate when and where they see fit, with or without contacting the Lake Zurich Police Department before the planned protest.

 

In addition, they said members of a July 15 protest did not intentionally try to disrupt traffic at routes 12 and 22, as Finlon has said.

"Our advice to the Pro-Life Action League will be to continue its current course of action," said Thoms Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas Moore Society in Chicago. "We also urge you to continue the course of action you have taken in years past and permit our client and its supporters to exercise their First Amendment rights, peaceably and lawfully, in Lake Zurich or elsewhere."

Finlon was not available for comment Monday. Deputy Chief Terry Vandergrift said the police department supports the group's right to bring its message to the public, but not its interference with traffic flow.

"Our role is to help them do that without disrupting traffic," Vandergrift said.

He forwarded the law firm's letter to Finlon, who is out of town for training, he said. The two of them will do more research on the case law Brejcha cited.

"We haven't had a chance to digest it fully yet," Vandergrift said.

Brejcha's letter comes after Finlon told the anti-abortion group on July 16 that, because of problems during a recent protest, it will not be allowed to demonstrate in town unless organizers meet with police 24 hours before any planned protests.

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Finlon said nearly 100 members of the group assembled at routes 12 and 22 on July 15 disrupted traffic flow by frequently entering the roadway to engage motorists. He also said protesters went to a private parking lot to place literature on vehicle windshields and confronted a business owner who didn't want the protest in front of his store.

Pro-Life Action League officials said they were not disruptive and did not intentionally stop traffic. They admitted supporters walked onto the roadway to hand out fliers, but only when police officers allowed them to do so.

Because of the protest, Finlon told organizers the group must seek police permission to hold future demonstrations. They also must supply details about the maximum number of people protesting, the names and addresses of organizers, the route and location of each protest in Lake Zurich and the time the protest will take place.

Brejcha said it's unconstitutional to stop a protest because the group did not first meet with police.

He also said the Pro-Life Action League has sent letters to police in the past in advance of demonstrations listing the time, place and names of the organizers of the protest.

Brejcha acknowledged the number of protesters expected at the demonstrations was not included in the correspondence, but only because it's impossible to know how many will attend a demonstration.