Saturday, April 28, 2018

Abortion Protester's Bomb Prophecy Was Not A "True Threat"

Thames v. City of Westland, (ED MI, April 20, 2018) is a suit by a pro-life advocate who was arrested and held over the weekend on charges of making a terrorist threat while protesting at an abortion clinic.  Kimberly Thames, while picketing the clinic, allegedly said "I prophesy bombs, I prophesy bombs. There is going to be a bombing in the near future."  A Michigan federal district court concluded that an issue of fact exists as to whether officers had probable cause to arrest Thames:
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.543m only criminalizes “true threats” which involve a “serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence,”.... In the vague context allegedly used by Thames, at least a jury question exists as to whether it amounts to a true threat.
The evidence suggests that Defendant Officers did not consider the statement to be a true threat as they did not direct evacuation of the clinic, did not request the assistance of a bomb squad, did not request the assistance of a bomb sniffing dog, did not search the clinic for a bomb, did not search the surrounding area for a bomb, did not search the adjacent parking lot for a bomb, did not search the dumpster for a bomb, and did not impound Thames’ vehicle for fear that a bomb might be planted in it.
The court denied motions for summary judgment on wrongful arrest, retaliatory arrest (as to some defendants) and equal protection claims.