Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, a Protestant minister who heads the Christian Defense Coalition, was arrested on Tuesday while praying in front of a Washington, D.C. Planned Parenthood facility. He and others said he was legally present on a public sidewalk the clinic has fenced in.
Pro-life advocates have prayed and counseled outside the Planned Parenthood clinic for years, but the facility recently applied for a public permit to construct an iron fence around the property.
The construction of the fence reportedly did not change the status of the enclosed land, which still remains public according to public records.
Hanes Henderson, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), is representing Rev. Mahoney.
"After we learned that Planned Parenthood installed the fence, and that police were threatening to arrest those that prayed or counseled on the public spaces within the fence, we extensively researched the status of that property,” Henderson commented.
Two separate sources with the Public Spaces Branch of the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation confirmed to Mahoney’s defenders that the District owned a 50-foot right of way along the public sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood.
"So, we know for a fact that Rev. Mahoney was arrested on public property when he was charged with crime of unlawful entry," Henderson claimed.