In 2008, a number of pro-life protesters stood on a street corner in Bel Air, Maryland. Police showed up to disperse the crowd. Some of them moved away, but eighteen remained on the corner and were subsequently arrested and taken to jail.
According to a lawsuit filed on their behalf, members of the Maryland State Police conducted what was described as ‘sexually invasive searching of females including two fourteen year old girls.
Jack Ames of Defend Life was among the pro-life protesters arrested. He described what happened as,
“[They were] driving us at 120 miles an hour from the state police barracks to the jail where we were held overnight. Then we were released the following morning … so we were held overnight. And then the charges were dropped 11 days later and then we turned around and we sued them.”
The lawsuit named Bel Air, Hartford County and the Maryland State Police as defendants. Bel Air and Hartford County eventually settled their part of the lawsuit out of court, but the Maryland State Police continued to stand their ground.
However, they must have seen the ground they were standing on starting to quiver and crumble because they recently decided to settle their part of the case out of court. The Maryland State Police has agreed to pay $385,000 to the arrested protesters.
Additionally, the Maryland State Police will be instituting a new First Amendment training program to help make all of their officers aware of the rights granted to American citizens by the US Constitution. The program must be reviewed and approved by the legal counsel of the arrested protesters.
I believe that every law enforcement agency in the land, from local to state to federal, should also be required to take First Amendment training courses. This would prevent more unconstitutional arrests and save the law enforcement agencies a ton of money in legal fees and settlements.