Ottawa Police issued tickets for “failing to leave the premises when directed” and for “engaging in activity prohibited on the premises,” said Craig Stewart, a fourth-year Carleton student who was among those arrested.
The tickets carry fines totaling $130. “We’re going to contest them,” declared Stewart.
He said Carleton Lifeline had planned to mount the display in the campus quadrangle, where lots of students pass through. “We were refused entry into the quadrangle, and told to take down our signs,” he said.
When they refused to leave, the campus police called in the Ottawa Police, who put the five in handcuffs and took them to the police station. “We cooperated with the arrest,” Stewart said. However, he added, one member did get into a scuffle with a campus police officer when he tried to take away the posters.
Carleton Lifeline had announced October 1 — via the blog ProWomanProLife.org and other online media — that it would display six 4′ X 8′ “bloody images from the controversial Genocide Awareness Project” (GAP), which “graphically compares abortion to historical atrocities such as the Holocaust.”
Stewart said Carleton LifeLine had been negotiating with the university to set up the controversial display. The university had offered a compromise, but Stewart said the room they offered was in a “segregated” area, away from places where students would see it. “We said we were going to go ahead anyway,” he declared.
University spokesman Jason McDonald told SunMedia that Carleton was trying to find a balance. “Those types of displays aren’t permitted in the Quad,” he said. “This particular display has been found by courts and human rights tribunals in other jurisdictions to be offensive.”
Stewart said the Quad was commonly used for displays of other forms of student activism. “We feel and think a lot of people are misinformed … about the current status of abortion,” he said, noting that 100,000 babies are aborted every year in Canada — where there is no law protecting the unborn child for the full nine months of pregnancy.
Stewart contended that pro-life groups have had a difficult time on the Carleton campus, while other kinds of activism are “supported and endorsed within the university.”
In a press release issued October 6, entitled ‘Carleton University continues to bully students,’ Carleton Lifeline accused the university of “communicat[ing] misleading statements to [the] public.”