Life Legal Defense Foundation announced on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011, the settlement of two civil rights actions it filed in 2008 and 2009 against Cypress College, on behalf of a group of young pro-life activists. The settlement includes significant changes to the school’s free speech policy and payment to plaintiffs for both monetary damages and their attorneys’ fees.

The first suit arose from an incident in February 2007, when three members of the Survivors (, based in Riverside, California, were arrested and jailed for refusing to stand in a yellow painted square marked “free speech area” that was located next to a construction zone. The young people were accused of trespassing on property not open to the general public, though their peaceful activities took place entirely in open areas of the public college. Recognizing that Cypress College was open to the general public, the Orange County District Attorney Office dismissed the charges and a judge declared the pro-lifers factually innocent.

The second suit arose just one year later, when the Survivors returned to Cypress College to once again engage in peaceful free speech activity. Cypress College administrators directed the arrest of the five pro-lifers and this time accused them of causing a disturbance on campus. All criminal charges were dismissed when the prosecutor reviewed video coverage of the activities which proved that no disturbance had occurred.

Lawsuits were filed to avenge these false arrests and to challenge the constitutionality of Cypress College’s free speech policy. After three and a half years of litigation, Cypress College has agreed to amend their free speech policy thereby opening up the main areas of campus for peaceful first amendment activities.

“This victory is a long time coming,” said Katie Short, legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “We have been battling Cypress College over their free speech policies for years. It goes to show you that with a lot of patience and persistence, it is possible to open the eyes of college administrators and successfully preserve the free speech rights of young people on our public college campuses.”

Please see also Pro-Life Group Settles Free Speech Case With Calif. College on