SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A California professor who was caught on camera stealing a sign from a pro-life group on campus, and then later destroyed the sign with scissors, has been sentenced to community service, anger management classes and three years probation after pleading “no contest” to criminal charges stemming from the incident.
As previously reported, on March 4th, the pro-life organization Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust held a peaceful abortion awareness campaign on the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus. Over a dozen students with the group distributed 900 pro-life informational pamphlets to UCSB students and displayed several large, handheld signs with graphic images of aborted babies.
Although several UCSB students expressed gratitude for the pro-life messages, Mireille Miller-Young, a professor in feminist studies, whose areas of study include Black Film, Feminist and Queer Theory, Sex Work, and Pornography, approached the group and threatened to forcibly remove their anti-abortion materials.
“We don’t need to listen to these people!” Miller-Young shouted, according to witnesses. “They don’t have our permission to be here. Should we tear down their sign?”
Miller-Young then incited several pro-abortion students to chant, “Tear down this sign! Tear down this sign!”
Then, as captured on a cell phone video published by the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, Miller-Young grabbed a sign from one of the members of the group and carried it into a nearby building.
“I may be a thief, but you’re terrorists!” Miller-Young yelled as she and two pro-abortion students walked away with the sign.
Students with the Christian pro-life group were shocked.
“She’s a professor and she’s stealing a sign!” one of the youth can be heard exclaiming in the video. “She’s a thief!”
Two of the pro-life students—16-year-old Thrin Short and her 21-year-old sister Joan—followed Miller-Young into the building. However, the professor entered an elevator and then pushed the students away when they tried to follow her. Thrin was left with scratches on her arms from the professor’s shoves.
According to a report filed by the UCSB Police Department, Miller-Young destroyed the pro-life poster with scissors in her office. When asked by a police officer if there had been a struggle for the sign, the professor simply said, “I’m stronger so I was able to take the poster.”
“Miller-Young said that she found this material offensive because she teaches about women’s ‘reproductive rights’ and is pregnant,” the police report also outlined. “Miller-Young … stated that she had the ‘moral’ right to act the way she did.”
But the Santa Barbara district attorney’s office agreed with the students that the professor’s actions were unlawful. It proceeded with formal charges against Miller-Young: one count each of theft, battery and vandalism. Last month, Miller-Young plead “no contest” in court. She has also issued an apology for her actions, but Katie Short of the Life Legal Defense Foundation and mother of Thrin and Joan, questioned the professor’s “level of remorse.”
“While Miller-Young submitted a written apology to the court for taking and destroying the sign, the sincerity of that apology is undercut by other letters she submitted from colleagues, several of which attempt to shift the blame onto the pro-lifers,” she told reporters.
On Friday, Judge Brian Hill sentenced the professor to 108 hours of community service, 10 hours of anger management classes and three years of probation. Miller-Young was also ordered to pay $493 in restitution to the Shorts. Her community service is to be served in conflict-resolution workshops run by the Quakers.
“It’s a clash of First Amendment interests, which both sides had a right to express,” Hill said, according to Noozhawk. “[But when] speech turns to something like physical invasion, then you have something criminal and that’s why we are here.”
“I think you should feel as though you’ve been vindicated,” he said to the Shorts, adding that although some took issue with the images on the posters “it’s still protected speech, and you have a right to that.”