Police Censorship

Anti-abortion billboard truck impounded, driver jailed


An Operation Rescue truck bearing signs with photographs of aborted babies was impounded and its driver arrested in an Atlanta suburb over the Thanksgiving Weekend.

Bob Roethlisberger, the driver of the vehicle called the "Truth Truck," was arrested by officers of the Gwinnett County Police Department on charges of disorderly conduct.  Officers told him the signage was "vulgar and obscene."  They ransacked the back of the truck without a warrant and ordered Roethlisberger to change or remove the signs.  When he refused, Roethlisberger was arrested and incarcerated for three days before being released on a $1,000 bond.

The "Truth Truck" was released from impound on Monday with damage to it estimated to be in the thousands of dollars.  Both the signs and the mounting hardware were damaged when police ripped the signs off the truck.

"It is obvious that these police officers, under the direction of Major Thomas Bardugon, engaged in a serious incident of unconstitutional content-based discrimination and illegal destruction of property," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
"Bob fully cooperated with officers, but refused to compromise on his message, which is unequivocally protected by the First Amendment. The officers misused their authority to punish Bob for expressing a viewpoint that ran counter to theirs. The arrest was nothing less than an egregious abuse of power," he continued.

When asked if he would drop charges against Roethlisberger, Major Bardugon refused and threatened to arrest Newman if he drove the "Truth Truck" through Bardugon's jurisdiction.

The "Truth Truck," part of a fleet of vehicles managed by Operation Rescue, was in Georgia to help draw Georgians' attention to the brutal reality of abortion.  A Human Life Amendment is scheduled to be considered by the state legislature in January.

Newman said Operation Rescue intended to vigorously fight the charges and to seek restitution for the property damage.

"We cannot allow the illegal use of police authority to bully us into silence, when such silence could cost innocent human lives," he said.

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