Pro-lifer charged after reporting suspicious package outside Planned Parenthood
* Fri Jun 17, 2011 21:26 EST
http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pro-li ... ned-parent
by Kathleen Gilbert
WILMINGTON, Delaware, June 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A pro-life leader is preparing to fight charges that were laid against him after he noticed a suspicious package outside a Wilmington abortion clinic, and called for police help.
Kurt Linnemann, the executive director for the Maryland chapter of the Center for Bioethical Reform, says the incident occurred on June 10 outside a Wilmington Planned Parenthood where he normally keeps vigil every Friday.
In an email to supporters, Linnemann, 52, said that he “noticed an unusual cardboard box strategically placed about 15 feet in front of the main doors” of the clinic, and close to where he and a handful of other pro-lifers were standing.
The others agreed that the package was suspicious, and Linnemann called the police. “Knowing abortion mills have been the target of extremists bombing, I thought it best to call 911,” he wrote.
But after police came and found the package harmless, according to Linneman, things took an unexpected turn, as one officer told Linnemann to put his sign down and put his hands behind his back. “He aggressively grabbed my wrists and began to hand cuff me,” he said.
Linnemann says he was detained along with another pro-lifer at the scene, 25-year-old Sean Kovalevich. Linnemann says that, while he has had previous run-ins with the police, this arrest was particularly shocking. “They were very aggressive and very swift in arresting me and forcing me off the street, and that was a new twist for them,” he told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN).
Kovalevich told LSN that he attempted to film the arrest, but only managed to get a few seconds on film before police turned on him as well. “They just told me ... you have to stop filming now, you’re being detained, and they grabbed the camera, turned it off, and stuck it in my pocket,” he said.
Sean was released within twenty minutes. Linneman, however,was charged with “Disorderly Conduct - Create Hazard Physical Offensive Condition with no purpose,” following a two-hour detainment.
“I asked what I did, [and] he said that you called in a false bomb scare. I shook my head and said, ‘no I didn’t,’ [and] he corrected himself and said, ‘I guess you did not use the word bomb ... you called it a suspicious package,’” Linnemann reported.
When Linneman returned to the Planned Parenthood later that day, he says that a witness told him that a police officer had called a parking enforcement officer to have his van ticketed.
“While being arrested I told the officer I needed to put money in the meter and he said it will be taken care of ... I guess it was,” he wrote.
Linnemann says he was summoned to appear in court on June 23.
Both Linnemann and his attorney, Jim Haley, told LifeSiteNews.com that Wilmington police have a history of cooperating with Planned Parenthood to unfairly target pro-life witnesses outside the abortion clinic.
“It’s very disturbing,” said Haley. “The police have used any chance they have to discourage Kurt, discourage the pro-life protesters out there. Their first reaction is always to make life difficult for those folks.”
Haley pointed to a separate incident in August 2009 in which Kurt called police to report being assaulted by a customer at the clinic. Police wound up arresting and charging Kurt with two counts of harassment and one of offensive touching. The state threw out the first two charges, and the court found Linnemann not guilty on the third.
According to court documents, the plaintiff in that case said that he pressed charges solely because police advised him that counter-suing would provide a quick means of dodging an assault charge against himself.
“It appears whenever there is any kind of police involvement out there, they use it as a basis to charge a pro-lifer. It appears to be a pattern,” Haley said.
Kurt emphasized his reliance on prayer throughout the ordeal, something that continues to sustain him as he faces charges. “When I’m not in the spirit of God, I’m intimidated,” he said.