By Jake Goldberg – Collegiate Staff
Two pro-life demonstrators were asked to leave campus by police Thursday after being approached by a Grand Rapids Community College student with a pro-choice sign.
On Thursday, April 20, at GRCC two members of the Inner-City Church Planting Mission planted a large banner next to the Student Center, expressing their pro-life beliefs. The banner read, “The Lord Says You Shall Not Murder Abortion is Murder.” Shortly after, several GRCC students arrived to express their opinion, planting a sign that said, “My Body My Choice” in front of the two church members. GRCC police quickly arrived on the scene, separating the demonstrators who were causing an obstruction on the campus. The members of Inner-City Church moved onto the city sidewalk on Lyon street to public property.
“I noticed those anti-choice folks were standing out here holding ther big signs, and out of frustration I got my sign out that says ‘My Body My Choice’ on it,” said one of the student counter protestors and Student Alliance officer Maleny Crespo. “I stood in front and then the GRCC police came and said I was obstructing and I needed to move. I refused because there wasn’t a clear definition of what the obstruction was.”
Daniel Schutte is a member of Inner City Church, and was one of the pro-life demonstrators on campus.
“We were proclaiming that salvation from sin is only available through Jesus Christ, and what he did on that cross, proclaiming the truth that abortion is murder,” Schutte said. “We talked to the police, and she said as long as you don’t obstruct anyone from where they are going we are welcome to be here. So we were here about an hour and that’s when the young lady came up.”
GRCC Police Chief Rebecca Whitman was on the scene and addressed the conflict between the student and the demonstrators.
“My understanding is a couple of people here were carrying a sign, that I believe was an anti-abortion sign near the entrance to the Cook building,” Whitman said. “I don’t believe they were speaking or yelling or passing anything out. They were just standing their with the sign to my understanding.”
Whitman clarified that the demonstrators had the right to free speech.
“It is our position for our people to feel free and safe in their learning environment,” Whitman said. “But because the commons is a public space, we don’t want to restrict anyone’s right to free speech in that space.”