Police Use Noise Ordinance to Stop Christmas Caroling Outside Abortion Clinic

By Susan Jones | December 22, 2015 | 11:06am EST
A screen capture shows a policeman telling pro-life Christmas carolers that their singing violates a local noise ordinance.

(CNSNews.com) - Pro-life activists plan to resume their Christmas caroling on a public sidewalk outside a Falls Church, Va., abortion clinic on Wednesday, four days after police told them to stop it.

The Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the Falls Church Police Department on Monday, explaining that police cannot use a noise ordinance to stop constitutionally protected free speech.

“No city ordinance can trump the First Amendment. It’s preposterous to think that any noise ordinance can or should be used to stop the singing of Christmas carols on a public sidewalk,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “We have come to an odd place in America when an abortion business thinks it can silence Christmas carolers. The police should not be willing to do their bidding.”

One of the carolers videotaped the exchange with two police officers called to the scene by abortion clinic staffers on Saturday.

As some of the protesters sang "Silent Night," a policeman told the group that he can't prevent them from standing on the grass, but he says "the signing violates our ordinance."

The city’s noise ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to yell, shout, talk loudly, whistle or sing on any public street or private property in the city at anytime, so as to cause a noise disturbance.”

Mary Flores, the caroler recording the video, asks for clarification from the officers: “It says here…that there’s no singing allowed?” she asked. “Yes, ma’am,” the officer replies. Flores’s daughter then asks, “Isn’t this public property?” The officer responds, “Unfortunately it’s a noise ordinance violation, on public or private property.”

"Wow, we must be singing a lot better than we thought we were," Flores says.

The group "stopped their caroling for fear of prosecution," which can include fines and possible jail time, ADF said.

“Christmas carols are obviously not a ‘noise disturbance’ to ‘a reasonable person of normal sensitivities’ as set forth in the ordinance," ADF wrote to police. "Instead, the officers imposed their Christmas-caroling ban solely as a response to the hostility of abortion facility staff to the pro-life Christian viewpoint

"The fact that abortion workers are ‘annoyed’ or ‘disturbed’ by the singing of ‘Silent Night’ outside the location where they assist the destruction of infant humans is not a legitimate basis under the First Amendment to suppress the singing.”

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