Spears v. City of Tucson. On September 12, 2014, I filed a “civil rights action” lawsuit against the City of Tucson because myself and Edwin Lo were threatened with arrest for ministering there on September 16, 2013, virtually a full year prior to the filing of the suit.
The City of Tucson, the Tucson Police Dept. (TPD), Planned Parenthood, and Tucson Medical Center (the hospital that allows PP to have this death mill as a tenant in part of their private medical complex) all claimed that the public sidewalk that Edwin and I were ministering on (directly in front of the clinic) were “private” and that we were trespassing. We were ordered to leave or face criminal arrest.
We contacted Nate Kellum of the “Center for Religious Expression,” a Christian law firm based in Memphis, TN that is experienced in first amendment cases. Mr. Kellum expressed particular interest in this case and offered to take it on “pro-bono,” meaning I did not have to come up with the money for the litigation. Praise God!
The interesting part of this case is that this PP is indeed in a private medical plaza. Tucson Medical Center (TMC) is a highly regarded hospital here in Tucson and they own a vast medical complex along with their hospital. They own and maintain all the grounds: the streets, sidewalks, buildings, etc. The City of Tucson does no maintenance for TMC in this medical complex where PP carries out their gruesome business.
For years and years, Christians have gone to this particular PP clinic on a sporadic basis and sought to minister there, and from what I understand, each time the private security firm hired by TMC to patrol the grounds ordered all of us off the grounds, using the same legal basis that the area was private.
But on September 16, 2013, I decided to make a stand and refused to leave when ordered by the private security company, believing that we had every right to be on the public sidewalk, regardless of any claim of these sidewalks being “private.”
The police were called and the TPD officer, after consulting with his superiors and the private security firm, confirmed that we were on private property and ordered us to leave or face criminal arrest. I respectfully disagreed with him and explained that, on the contrary, we were not trespassing and had every right to minister on that sidewalk.
He wasn’t in the mood to discuss this and ordered us off the property or get arrested, forbidding us to return on the property again unless we needed medical services. Wisely, we left before the handcuffs went on.
My attorney, Nate Kellum, did an excellent job in researching this issue and discovered that, yes, this was indeed private property, but here is the interesting twist: the sidewalks that make up this private medical complex were indistinguishable from any other public sidewalks in Tucson, and nothing about them would make anybody using them think they were anything but regular, public sidewalks. There were no signs around the medical complex alerting people coming onto the property that they entering private property.
As a matter of fact, many people use the roads in this complex as a shortcut and do not use the medical facilities. Pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, and dog walkers use the roads and sidewalks to go about their business and many are not patients of the medical service providers.
After much research, it was finally determined and confirmed by TMC that yes, these sidewalks were “within the public right of way” and now, I would no longer face arrest for trespassing if I desired to engage in conduct protected by the First Amendment. This was provided in a letter dated December 5, 2014 from the City of Tucson, of which I did not receive until today.
What does this mean? Christians can now freely go to this notorious death mill and “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves” in the hope that some abortion minded moms will choose life instead of death for their unborn, defenseless and innocent pre-born sons and daughters.
For years and years and years, Christians have been bullied and lied to by these people and, threatened with arrest, have avoided ministering at this clinic. Backed by law enforcement and the “big guns” of the City of Tucson’s legal department and well-paid attorneys, these babies have been butchered without anyone to speak up in their defense. Hopefully, this will now begin to change.
I want to encourage everyone to pray that a regular and consistent pro-life outreach will now begin to take root in front of this PP clinic. Please spread the word about this astonishing victory in Tucson, and let’s not waste this opportunity. Truly, to God be the glory!
The clinic name and address is:
Margaret Sanger Health Center
2255 N. Wyatt Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85712