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Antiabortion groups sue D.C. after arrests for chalking in front of Planned Parenthood

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Two antiabortion groups whose members were arrested for chalking outside a Planned Parenthood office in August sued the District on Wednesday, alleging that the city used defacement of public property laws to “silence disfavored speech.”

The complaint was filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the Frederick Douglass Foundation and Students for Life of America, among others.

The office of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

Two protesters arrested while chalking ‘Black Pre-Born Lives Matter’ on sidewalk

The filing concerns an incident from the early morning of Aug. 1, when a group of about two dozen people led by Students for Life of America showed up to paint “Black Pre-Born Lives Matter” in front of the Planned Parenthood office in the 1200 block of Fourth Street NE.

Police arrested two protesters after warning them that they would be detained if they painted the street and telling them that they could not write on the sidewalk with chalk, either, according to the complaint. The protesters, who were arrested while chalking on the street, were released an hour after they were detained.

The lawsuit includes photographs of the “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund The Police” murals painted in downtown D.C. to argue that the city’s actions were based on “blatant viewpoint discrimination” that violates the U.S. Constitution.

“The government can’t discriminate against certain viewpoints by allowing some voices to be heard while silencing others,” said ADF legal counsel Elissa Graves in a statement. “The First Amendment prohibits the government from picking and choosing whose speech to allow.”