Pro-Life poster display vandalized, Princeton University

From the Daily Princeton

By Sophia Jih
Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

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A lawn display advocating against abortion was vandalized last Wednesday and Friday evenings, University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt ’96 said. The posters were on the north lawn of Frist Campus Center for Respect Life Week, organized by Princeton Pro-Life.

Public Safety was notified of the first instance of vandalism on Thursday at around 12:45 a.m., Cliatt said, noting that all six posters on the lawn had been torn off their plywood mounts. She added that “debate with words, not soft-focus photography” had also been written in black ink on one of the pieces.

The irony of that is that there was text on all the posters, except the one where the vandal had removed the text,” said Princeton Pro-Life member Matthew Sanyour ’11, one of the students who first found the ruined posters on Wednesday night.

He noted that Princeton Pro-Life had been planning to take the display in at nights to prevent vandalism.

We had thought that the likely vandalism would be in the wee hours of the morning,” Sanyour said. “Unfortunately, what we had expected had already occurred.”

Sanyour described the vandalism as “primarily targeting the faces” of the people in the images.

There was an image of a pregnant woman whose face had been removed,” Sanyour explained, adding that the heads had been “cut, but possibly torn,” from other photographs of faces and fetuses as well.

On Friday, Princeton Pro-Life had intended to conclude Respect Life Week with a candlelight vigil. Upon arriving at Frist, however, the group discovered that three more posters had been vandalized.

It was pretty disturbing, because I had thought that the images weren’t offensive prima facie,” Sanyour said. “If it had been something like an aborted fetus, I could understand, but there were images of babies and women.”

My first thought was a bit of deja vu,” Princeton Pro-Life president Lauren Kustner ’11 said, referring to a similar event in April 2006 when vandals ruined a display of 347 flags intended to represent the students who might have been members of the Class of 2010 had abortion not been legalized.

I can’t believe this is still happening,” Kustner added.

Kustner said that “looking just at the way [the posters] were destroyed, one would assume they were the same people” who had caused the vandalism on the two different nights.

I had people come up to me and say, ‘Wow, that’s too bad. Even though I’m not pro-life, that just shouldn’t happen at Princeton,’ ” Kustner added.

Princeton Pro-Choice Vox president Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux ’11 also said she was “disappointed” by the vandalism.

I obviously don’t agree with the Princeton Pro-Life display, but doing something like that never fosters productive discussion, and that’s what we strive for at Princeton Pro-Choice Vox,” Thomson-DeVeaux said in an e-mail.

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