This morning, Thomas More Society attorney Peter Breen entered a “not guilty” plea to the charge of disorderly conduct on behalf of Joseph Holland, the first person arrested under the new Chicago “Bubble Zone” ordinance, which prevents certain types of picketing activity outside local abortion clinics. Holland, a Northwesten University graduate student, was praying the rosary on a public sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood Near North abortion facility on July 3 when staff called the police, claiming that he had violated the new ordinance.
The “Bubble Zone” ordinance prohibits approaching within eight feet of a person, without consent, “for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling.” According to witnesses and available video, Holland was engaged solely in prayer activity and not in leafletting, picketing or “sidewalk counseling.” Video of Holland’s alleged disorderly conduct can be viewed here:
“This arrest was about one thing: trying to scare pro-life people away from Planned Parenthood,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel. “Joe Holland did nothing wrong – his only ‘crime’ was having the temerity to exercise his First Amendment rights on a public sidewalk. We look forward to defending Joe and others like him against the City of Chicago’s false charges.” During consideration of the new ordinance, Breen presented testimony that the “Bubble Zone” ordinance is unconstitutional, a position with which the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois agreed.
Thomas More Society attorneys today also served subpoenas on Planned Parenthood for security footage of the alleged disorderly conduct and on the City of Chicago for the 911 tapes of the calls placed by Planned Parenthood. The Thomas More Society is also representing David Avignone, the second arrestee under the “Bubble Zone” ordinance. Holland’s next appearance is August 3, and Avignone’s first appearance will be August 30.