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Pro-life display at William & Mary destroyed; group questions right to free speech

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - A pro-life display made by the student group Advocates for Life was destroyed before it got to serve its purpose.

The display consisted of signs and 3,000 popsicle sticks. Each stick represents what the group said are 20,000 unborn lives. The math comes out to 60 million, which the group said are the number of unborn lives since the Roe v. Wade decision. But the display was destroyed within hours, reported WTKR News 3. 

"My immediate response was, 'Oh my gosh, it happened to us,'" said Katherine Beck, the President of the group. She said she'd heard of friends saying they have had issues with free speech on their college campuses, but she didn't think it would happen at the College of William & Mary.

The group spent hours Sunday night setting up the display to mark the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22.

"We were really excited because we knew something like this hadn’t been done on William & Mary’s campus," said Beck.

"It felt especially appropriate to be doing it on the anniversary of the Supreme Court case that gave right to abortion in our country. Many of us see that as a real turning point in the abortion debate. So it was meaningful for us as law students to mark an anniversary and really it was in memorial of the lives that have been lost as a consequence of that decision," said Brooke Boyd, a member of the student group.

In addition to the 3,000 popsicle sticks, the group made signs. One said “love them both,” but Beck and Boyd say campus police told them the display was destroyed just a few hours later.

"How could someone look at a sign that says, 'love them both,' and just rip it in half and throw it in the trashcan? Even if you don’t agree what’s inside a woman’s womb is a life, that’s a message of love someone is trying to spread. And for someone to rip it up in the middle of the night and throw it in the trashcan, that was really hard to see," said Beck.

Beck was upset the display was not able to get its message across. "I think the most upsetting part is no students got to see it. And this is something that only comes once a year so this particular day was important for us to remember the unborn."

The group said since this happened, many students and members of the community are coming together to help them make a new display. They hope to have that up by next week and campus police are hoping to catch the person responsible.