On March 21, 2015, Richard Carlson and other sidewalk counselors were peacefully holding signs, praying, and speaking to women outside the Planned Parenthood on The Alameda in San Jose, California. An angry passerby stopped his car, approached the group, and began tossing the pro-life signs in his car. One of the sidewalk counselors tried to retrieve Mr. Carlson’s signs from the thief but the man wrestled the signs away from the woman and drove off in his vehicle with the stolen signs, worth several hundred dollars.
The entire crime was captured on video. Mr. Carlson got several photographs of the perpetrator, his vehicle, and the license plate of the car. Mr. Carlson immediately called the police to report the crime in the hopes that the police would quickly apprehend the thief and return the signs to Mr. Carlson. Wrong! The San Jose Police Department refused to even send an officer to the scene of the violent robbery. Mr. Carlson spoke with someone by phone who took a report of what happened. The officer told Carlson to hire his own private detective to get his property back.
Mr. Carlson tried to follow up with the SJPD a couple weeks later, as instructed, and was told that no investigator was being assigned to the case and no further work would be done at this time. In fact, the SJPD would not even look at the video or photos that Mr. Carlson had.
A disappointed and frustrated Mr. Carlson contacted Life Legal Defense Foundation seeking help in how to get the SJPD to do their job on such a simple and straightforward case. On May 1, 2015, LLDF Senior Staff Counsel Allison K. Aranda sent a letter to the Deputy Chief of Investigations setting out the history of police inaction on the case and insisting that Chief Williams assign an investigator. Within days of receiving the letter, the SJPD contacted Mr. Carlson to make arrangements to obtain his video and photos.
SJPD Lt. Messier also contacted LLDF to assure Mrs. Aranda that Mr. Carlson’s case was being assigned to an investigator and would receive prompt attention. SJPD investigators have since been able to identify the thief and have turned the case over to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office for review and prosecution. Your continued financial support will enable LLDF to pursue justice not only for Mr. Carlson, but for many others like him.
While we applaud the SJPD for finally apprehending the thief who forcefully stole the pro-life signs from Mr. Carlson, it is disappointing that the police had to be prompted to take these steps. Unfortunately, without public pressure, the SJPD, like many other police departments across the nation, may ignore the calls for help from peaceful pro-life activists who have been victimized because of their beliefs. It is important to remember that in the fight to protect and save the unborn, we will face trials and witness injustice, but it is equally important not to sit by silently and accept this fate. We must fight for what is right and demand justice from those who are sworn to uphold the law.