Free speech zone filled with mix of diverse messages

James Heggen

Conditions were ripe for a diverse group of messages at the “free speech zone” near Parks Library on Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Ally Alliance; ACLU at ISU, Young Socialists, and an anti-abortion group were all exercising their rights near Parks Library attempting to spread their respective messages.

Members of LGBTAA congregated as part of Transgender Day of LGBTA Awareness Week, while the Young Socialists and the ACLU were simply passing out information.

Missionaries to the Preborn, an anti-abortion group based in Milwaukee, were also on hand to spread their thoughts. Some of the anti-abortion protesters were children, who held up billboards and passed out fliers.

Sara, 11, called abortion “murder.”

“It is wrong – no one should have an abortion because it is the killing of a baby, an innocent child,” she said.

Cletus Kiefer said it was good for the public to see that children understand abortion is wrong.

“Kids in our family wanna do it [speak against abortion] because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Members of the group were located throughout campus.

Bob Braun, a member of Missionaries to the Preborn, was protesting near the entrance of the Gerdin Business Building.

He said his group was there to talk about salvation and Jesus Christ.

“We want to spread the word that abortion is wrong,” he said.

Braun said responses to the group had been mostly positive.

“We’re trying to stay out of trouble,” he said.

Braun said the group has been traveling all over the country. The group had recently been to the University of Northern Iowa and is planning to protest the building of an abortion clinic in Des Moines.

Braun also said the group does not have a lot of black members.

“Because they don’t care – they want someone else to do it,” he said.

However, Braun admitted this attitude was not race-specific.

“There’s white people like that, too,” he said.

Carley Joens, sophomore in child development, talked to Braun Wednesday on Central Campus. She said she didn’t agree with the tactics of the protesters.

“I’m not for abortion, I just disagree with the way they’re presenting it,” she said.

There was also an issue with the abortion protesters and ISU administrators.

A number of complaints were received about the protesters, and Gail Ferlazzo, associate director of the Memorial Union; Scott Mass, program coordinator for the Memorial Union; and Steve Satterlee, program coordinator for the Memorial Union, all made trips outside the Union to monitor the group.

Satterlee monitored the protesters after some students reported some complaints about their actions.

Satterlee said he encouraged the protesters to move to one of the “free speech zones” on campus.

Satterlee said it wasn’t the content of the message that caused the disturbance, but that protesters were impeding the walkway of passers-by.

“We would have done that for any group,” he said.

– Daily Correspondent Kim Norvell contributed to this article.