<div>Kicking Pro-Life Students Out Of Air And Space Museum An 'Aberration,' Smithsonian Director Says</div>
Kicking Pro-Life Students Out Of Air And Space Museum An ‘Aberration,’ Smithsonian Director Says

Authored by Ryan Morgan via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The Smithsonian Institution has apologized for the conduct of its National Air and Space Museum employees who drove pro-life activists out of the museum during the March For Life Rally in Washington last month.

<div>Kicking Pro-Life Students Out Of Air And Space Museum An 'Aberration,' Smithsonian Director Says</div>
Pro-life and pro-abortion activists protest during the 50th annual March for Life rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of pro-life activists were in Washington on Jan. 20 to attend the annual rally in opposition to abortion. During the weekend event, some rallygoers chose to visit the Air and Space Museum but were kicked out over hats emblazoned with pro-life messages.

The incident during the pro-life rally prompted 40 Republican lawmakers to send a letter to Smithsonian Institution Director Lonnie G. Bunch III, demanding answers.

In their letter, the lawmakers raised allegations that museum employees repeatedly “accosted” pro-life students from a Catholic school in Greenville, South Carolina. The students had been wearing blue beanie hats embroidered with the words “Rosary PRO-LIFE.”

The museum employees allegedly mocked the students, “called them expletives, and made comments that the museum was a ‘neutral zone’ where they could not express such statements.”

As a taxpayer-funded entity, the Smithsonian Institution and its various museums and buildings are generally prohibited from interfering in the free speech activities of its visitors. The Smithsonian Institution does not allow people to hold demonstrations or display placards, signs, and banners in its buildings, but political messages on articles of clothing are not prohibited.

On Tuesday, Bunch responded to the lawmakers, giving his assurances that the incident was a mistake and the Smithsonian Institution is taking corrective actions.

“This was an aberration and not reflective of Smithsonian values and practice of welcoming all visitors regardless of viewpoint,” Bunch wrote. “Visitors are not to be denied access based on messages on their clothing, and an error was made in this regard on January 20, 2023.”

Smithsonian Retraining Employees

Bunch told the Republican lawmakers he had directed the Smithsonian museum to provide employees with refresher training regarding its policies for visitors arriving after demonstrations in the nation’s capital.

“Additionally, I have directed that security personnel be provided with refresher training before any scheduled demonstration to prevent this from happening again,” Bunch wrote.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), one of the lawmakers who joined the letter to Bunch, told Fox News, “The Smithsonian has publicly acknowledged its employees’ wrongdoing, instituted refresher training, and taken immediate corrective action to remedy the situation and claims it will not happen again,” but said, “Congress will need to continue proper oversight of the Smithsonian and ensure that all Americans are welcome at the Air and Space Museum.”

Facing Lawsuit

While Bunch said the Smithsonian Institution has taken actions to avoid making the same mistakes in the future, the institution is facing a lawsuit for the Jan. 20 incident at the Air and Space Museum.

The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) filed a lawsuit against the museum earlier this month on behalf of parents and children impacted by the incident. The lawsuit names the museum, its leaders, and five unnamed John and Jane Doe police or security guards who took part in the Jan. 20 incident.

The ACLJ has also filed a lawsuit against the National Archives and four John and Jane Doe police or security guards who allegedly kicked another group of pro-life visitors out of the museum on the same day.

“What is so egregious about this particular targeting is that it was done by the very federal institution that is home to our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—the exact documents that call on our government to protect the freedoms of speech and religion, not trample on them,” ACLJ said of its lawsuit against the National Archives.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 02/24/2023 – 21:40