On August 3, 2017, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) entered its appearance in the case of People of the City of Westland v. Calvin John Zastrow. In this criminal case, AFLC is representing Cal Zastrow, a pro-life demonstrator who was unlawfully arrested by police officers from the City of Westland, Michigan for allegedly disturbing the peace.
Upon making its appearance, AFLC promptly filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charge on constitutional grounds. A hearing on the motion is set for September 6.
On June 24, 2017, Zastrow, along with several other pro-life demonstrators, were engaging in free speech activity on the public sidewalk outside of the Northland Family Planning Center, a notorious abortion facility located on Ford Road in the City of Westland.
According to the City’s own police report, Zastrow was arrested because he “could be heard from over 50 [feet] away yelling about babies being murdered,” and his “actions were gaining the attention of people passing by and drawing the attention of employees at the location attempting to conduct business. . . .” The police also charged that Zastrow “continued to yell quotes of scripture and accusations of murder.” In other words, Zastrow was arrested for engaging in First Amendment protected, pro-life, free speech activity. He was placed in handcuffs and detained in the police holding cell until he could post bond.
AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel Robert Muise, Zastrow’s lead attorney, commented:
The City of Westland Police Department has become the muscle for Northland’s baby killing business, exerting its police powers to shut down pro-lifers who rightfully oppose the brutal and inhumane practice of abortion. In the process, the City is trampling all over the Constitution. We vow to fight on behalf of these courageous pro-lifers and the unborn children they are trying to save.
In the motion to dismiss, AFLC is arguing that Zastrow’s speech activity is fully protected by the First Amendment and that the breach of the peace ordinance, which prohibits “unreasonable” or “unnecessary noise” that can be heard beyond 50 feet, an absurd distance on a busy road in a commercial district where the Northland abortion facility is located, is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to punish Zastrow’s speech.
Here is a video of Zastrow’s arrest:
Recordings of City police officers demonstrate their strong bias against the pro-lifers. Here is a video of a City police officer admitting that they side with Northland. This video was taken on the day Zastrow was arrested:
Here is an audio recording captured from a police dash cam recorder that was obtained via discovery in this matter. In this recording, two City police officers are criticizing the pro-life demonstrators and their pro-life message. This conversation takes place shortly after Zastrow was arrested and while the officers were in the Northland parking lot.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. AFLC is also representing a pro-life demonstrator who was unlawfully arrested outside of the Northland abortion facility by City police officers in August 2016. AFLC filed a civil rights lawsuit in that case against the City, its Chief of Police, and several police officers. The case is Thames v. City of Westland.