Case dropped against professor arrested for protesting anti-abortion display

On May 9, 2013

  • Laury Curry, an adjunct professor in UB's Media Study Department, was arrested April 15 for disorderly conduct in protesting an anti-abortion display in front of the Student Union. YouTube Screenshot

The disorderly conduct charge against Laura Curry, an adjunct media study professor, was dropped on Thursday morning.

Curry appeared in front of Judge Mark Farrell in Amherst Town Court almost a month after she was arrested for using profane language to demonstrate her distaste for a graphic anti-abortion display presented by UB Students for Life and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

The display - which was stationed outside the Student Union from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 15 and 16 - showed pictures of dismembered fetuses and compared abortions to genocide, child abuse and hate crimes. Curry, who was arrested the first day of the display, still believes it was profane.

Curry used the work "f***" repeatedly and told University Police, "I'm not being disorderly." She pointed at the display and said "that is disorderly" and "[the images] are swearing to me."

Shortly thereafter, Curry was arrested. Some students and community members were outraged. Three days after her arrest, approximately 600 people signed Stand With Laura Curry, a petition that called for the dismissal of her case.

Judge Farrell ruled the First Amendment protected Curry's self-expression at the rally.

"[The community support] has been amazing," Curry said. "The friends that I have made in Buffalo and the people I didn't know here have stepped up and given support personally and through funds. It made it a lot easier to tolerate."

Since the incident, Curry has received a "s*** ton" of personal hate mail, she said. Some messages were uninformed, violent and menacing, she said, and some weren't written in "any language [she] would want to repeat."

The professor and artist said she has not allowed the incident to bring her down. She and Cayden Mak, a media study instructor who was involved in organizing Curry's support committee, raised $316 to cover her legal fees. Only $300 was needed and Curry plans to use the remaining $16 as the first donation to an "abortion fund" she is starting.

"I want to be able to have a fund where young women and men, who care about women, will have the resources for education and action," Curry said. "There will be a way for people to have resources when needed to make choices."

To raise more money, Curry plans to perform a one-woman show - the working title is Laura Says F**k - to present her ideology through her art. Though the performance is still in development, Curry raffled tickets for opening night at a fundraiser Mak organized on May 7.

Curry said she hopes to shed light on the mistakes made prior to and during the protests. She believes UB should have warned students such a graphic display about a sensitive topic was going to be set up in the most common area of the campus. She also believes people should not be punished for their reactions to something like the display - which was meant to elicit an emotional response, according to Christian Andzel, the president of UB Students for Life.

"I feel the freedom of expression and speech is very important anywhere on the university campus," Andzel said. "If the judge believed [Curry's] actions fell under her right to freedom of expression and speech, then I stand with the judge, even if I thought she did not need to escalate the already-intense environment."

Curry said her conversation with UB regarding the incident is ongoing.



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