CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city of Charlotte is facing a new lawsuit involving a group protesting a local abortion clinic.
There has been growing controversy and escalating demonstrations and now the group said the city is violating its First Amendment rights.
The group said it is being unfairly targeted by the city, including when a protester who held a sign with their shoes. The city cited that person because he wasn't wearing the shoes.
The Women's Health Clinic on Latrobe Drive is the site of protests almost every single day but on weekends, there can be hundreds of people on a nearby cul-de-sac.
On Saturday, people sang, held signs and protested outside the clinic again. Crowds appear to grow larger on the weekends.
“There are cars lined on both sides of the street and at any turn you have individuals jumping from between cars to try to get them to stop,” said Jason Foster, of Pro Choice Charlotte.
“We realize the choice is theirs, but we want them to see that there are two sides to this story," said protester Tim Stolzfus.
Clinic officials said the protesters are harassing and intimidating women seeking services. The city has expressed interest in cracking down on the protests in a legal way.
Now the group Cities4Life is filing a lawsuit against the city, claiming the city restricts which signs they can use, even removing them, because they don't agree with their message. City officials said they haven’t received the lawsuit.
They said the fact that certain messages may be offensive to some individuals does not deprive the people holding the signs their constitutional rights.
The city of Charlotte will likely file a response to the suit in the coming weeks.
Outside the clinic, traffic cones lined the street and into the driveway.
Police call it a buffer for patrons to get in and out without being impeded.
Police also monitored sound outside the clinic, in line with the city's noise ordinance down to the decibel.
“The officers that are out here are out here to make sure this is a safe environment for everybody,” CMPD Capt. Cecil Brisbon said. “For patrons receiving services and for both groups to voice their views."
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