Suspected vandals say destroying anti-abortion display is free speech

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - When the campus organization Northern Right to Life set up its display at Northern Kentucky University, they knew it was controversial.

It consisted of baby clothes on a line with a red "x" through every fourth one.

"This is supposed to represent that every fourth baby is aborted in America," said Danielle Roberts, the spokesperson for the group.

A couple of days later, the display was vandalized.

"Someone in the middle of the night came and took all the clothes down off the clothes lines," Roberts said Wednesday afternoon.

When it happened a second time, NRTL member Nathaniel Hall said, "I was tired of it."

So he and a friend from Thomas Moore College decided to hide in plain sight to catch the troublemakers. They hid in a metal boxlike sculpture a few feet away during the night.

They weren't disappointed.

"I saw one of the guys run over and start cutting it down," Hall said.

He called the police. The vandals took off.   

"We wound up chasing them across campus," Hall said.

The police caught three suspects; Travis Black, Steven White and Montez Jenkins Copeland.

Hall says they were very angry, "telling me that I had no idea what it was like to be a woman, that the display was gruesome, that the statistic was a lie."  

Roberts says the issue is bigger than an argument over abortion.

"I believe it is about our right to express our ideas," she said.

 A fourth suspect, Kyle Pickett turned himself in.

Ironically, in a phone conversation Pickett agreed with Roberts, as he defended the actions.

"Tearing it down was expressing our right to free speech," he said.

Campus police disagree and have charged the students with criminal mischief. NKU officials will be holding a separate disciplinary hearing to determine whether the school should take further action.


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