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Posted on Thu, Jan. 12, 2006

Abortion foes file federal suit against Granite City

BY JAYNE MATTHEWS
News-Democrat

The fuss over who did what to whom at the annual Santa parade has landed abortion protesters and Granite City back in federal court.

Angela Michael of Highland and her daughter, Mia Michael, filed a lawsuit last week in federal court in East St. Louis.

Angela Michael heads Small Victories, an anti-abortion group.

Granite City Police routinely allow people to abuse abortion protesters at parades and at Small Victories demonstrations outside Hope Clinic for Women, the lawsuit alleges. The clinic is the only abortion provider in Southern Illinois.

"(Granite City Police) have shown bias and hostility against pro-life protesters on previous occasions, making them the subject of unwarranted arrests, citations and charges," the lawsuit states. Police have said they show no partiality to any parties involved in frequent abortion-related confrontations in Granite City.

The lawsuit also asks that a federal judge stop the city from passing a proposed ordinance that would limit signs larger than 8.5 by 11 inches within 25 feet of a parade route.

City Attorney Brian Konzen wrote a preliminary draft of the sign law after a scuffle broke out between abortion foes and Santa parade spectators on Nov. 19.

Confrontations also took place in September, during the city's Labor Day parade.

The proposed sign law has not gone back before the City Council since Dec. 6, when it was passed on to the council's Ordinance Committee for review.

Konzen could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the latest Small Victories lawsuit and the status of the proposed parade sign law.

At the Santa parade, some spectators, including Mayor Ed Hagnauer, objected to large, graphic pictures of aborted fetuses being displayed near children.

The lawsuit asks the federal courts to order Granite City Police to allow abortion protesters to file complaints without facing charges themselves.

The Madison County state's attorney's staff reviewed police reports, witness statements and a video tape produced by Mia Michael before declining last month to bring charges against anyone for conduct along the Santa parade route.

Small Victories won a federal lawsuit last year that challenged a Granite City ordinance banning leaflets. A federal judge said the law was too broad.

The city since has passed a new leaflet restriction law that so far has not been challenged in court.

Contact Jayne Matthews at jmatthews@bnd.com or 345-7822 ext. 25.

To support and encourage Daniel and Angela please contact them - 
smallvictories@juno.com (email), 618-654-5800 (phone), 
or write them; Small Victories P.O. Box 143 Highland, IL 62249.