Pro-life groups have asked the City of Denver to permit them to conduct a prayer vigil at the Pepsi Center on August 23, two days before the Democratic National Convention meets at the venue. However, the groups say a lawsuit could be necessary to overcome the delayed response from the city government that has hampered planning for the vigil.
The Christian Defense Coalition (CDC), Survivors, Operation Rescue, and other national groups are planning the event, which they call “A Prayer for Change.”
CDC President Rev. Patrick Mahoney wrote an e-mail to Denver Attorney David Fine asking the city to approve the prayer vigil, which he said will include hundreds of Christians peacefully kneeling in prayer and leaving roses symbolizing aborted children.
He argued that the delay is creating “major hardship” for the pro-life groups and limits their ability to plan to exercise their First Amendment rights.
“Sadly, this delay is no different than denying our free speech rights,” he wrote.
He said the groups’ legal team has been instructed to file suit in federal court on Friday if the city does not take action.
“We hope we do not have to go into federal court to settle this matter, but we certainly will do so if we cannot reach an agreement with the City,” he said in a press release.
Speaking in a phone interview, Mahoney told CNA that the groups’ attorney Brian Chavez-Ochoa has been in contact with City Attorney David Fine throughout Tuesday, but there had been no further developments by 3 p.m. Eastern time.
Mahoney said that the city has not denied permission for the vigil, but it “has not said definitively that we can hold the prayer vigil.”
“We think we’ve been more than fair with the City of Denver for them to get a security plan in place and for them to negotiate with us to have our peaceful prayer vigil at the Pepsi Center,” he stated.
He reported that the CDC has been working with the city since September 2007 on several events planned for the convention period. All other Denver sites the groups wished to use have been approved.
“We don’t want to have to litigate,” he said, but if the groups’ concerns are not answered “we’ll definitely be in federal court on Friday.”
Rev. Mahoney said the pro-life groups wanted to have people pray “that this tragic war on children called abortion would end.” Claiming that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama would be “the most pro-abortion president in history,” he said the demonstrators would especially be praying for Obama.
Attendees at the pre-convention prayer vigil would leave 1,400 roses for “children and women who have been diminished through abortion.” Mahoney explained that the number 1,400 was chosen because it is the number of African-American babies killed in abortions each day.
Mahoney will arrive in Denver on Thursday and on Monday will participate in a local interfaith pro-life demonstration, where he will join pro-life speaker Dr. Alveda King.
More information on the planned pre-convention vigil is available at the website http://aprayerforchange.com .