Soon “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” won’t be the only messages painted in bold yellow letters on the streets of Washington, D.C.
Pro-life groups led by Students for Life of America and the Frederick Douglass Foundation are scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday to paint “Black Preborn Lives Matter” in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic on the 1200 block of 4th Street NE.
This isn’t unauthorized guerilla art. The groups obtained a permit for the street-painting from the Metropolitan Police Department, according to SLA spokesperson Kristi Hamrick.
“We did reach out to the city for permission for all the permits, and we were also told that as the mayor had opened up the city for expression by allowing speech about defunding the police, this is permissible,” said Ms. Hamrick.
In a July 20 letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the groups argued that denying their request while permitting protesters to paint “Defund the Police” would represent viewpoint discrimination.
“Your original decision to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the street is government speech,” said the letter. “However, your decision to allow protestors to paint ‘Defund the Police’ opened the streets up as a public forum. You are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint in making determinations relating to public assemblies in public fora.”
“Defund the Police” was painted June 6 next to “Black Lives Matter” along 16th Street NW, a two-block section leading to the White House that has been renamed by the city “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
The pro-life street-painting request appears to be the first one approved since the “Defund the Police” message prompted some conservative groups to call for equal time.
A month ago, Judicial Watch filed a civil-rights lawsuit against Ms. Bowser and other District officials after failing to receive a “substantive response” to a request to paint “Because Nobody is Above the Law” on a street near the group’s headquarters.
The pro-life groups, who plan to use tempera paint, have accused Planned Parenthood of targeting minority women for abortions by placing clinics in and near minority neighborhoods, while Planned Parenthood has argued that it seeks to provide health care to undeserved communities.
Black women make up 13% of the female population but represent 38% of reported abortions, according to 2016 figures from the Centers for Disease Control.
“Perhaps that is because 4 out of 5 Planned Parenthood vendors are within walking distance of minority-dense neighborhoods,” said Students for Life of America in a press release, citing 2012 figures from the Life Issues Institute at the Susan B. Anthony Foundation.
The Planned Parenthood Carol Whitehill Moses Center on 4th Street provides abortions as well as services such as birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing, according to the website.