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IU student detained for vandalizing pro-life signs


Junior Thomas Metcalf holds a sign which reads "community autonomy, reproductive sovereignity!" before a rally against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Oct. 10 near the Sample Gates. Matt Begala Buy Photos

An IU student was detained Oct. 4 after allegedly destroying the signs of a pro-life group protesting on campus.

Thomas Metcalf, 21, attempted to steal, spray-paint and throw signs displayed by Created Equal, according to video footage and a police report obtained in an email from the group. The incident occurred near the intersection of East 10th Street and North Fee Lane.

IU Police Department officers classified the actions as disorderly conduct but did not arrest Metcalf at the scene because police did not see the incident, according to the report. Charges have since been filed, IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said.

The report said Metcalf, who goes by they/them pronouns, refused to talk to the officers without a lawyer and tried calling their mom to get one before obeying commands to hang up.

Created Equal posted a video Oct. 10 to YouTube showing Metcalf vandalizing the signs, many of which display pro-life messages and include bloody images supposedly showing aborted fetuses.

Metcalf attempted to steal at least one of the signs by putting it into a black car, but the Created Equal member recording the incident grabbed the sign and took it out again.

Metcalf then cursed at the person recording.

“You are harming women,” Metcalf said.

A man closed the car door after the sign was removed, and the video claims he was an IU official helping to steal the signs.

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney confirmed the man is a University official, but said he was trying to diffuse the situation rather than help Metcalf. It is unclear whether there were any signs still left in the car when the door was closed.

Other clips show Metcalf using black spray paint to cover the signs’ images of aborted fetuses while the Created Equal member recorded the incident and tried to stop Metcalf.

“It’s not your property,” the Created Equal member said.

Toward the end of the video, Metcalf confronted the member while trying to unlock their bike and ride away.

“Why do you do this?” Metcalf asked.

“Cause I think it’s wrong to kill human beings,” the member said behind the camera. “Why do you do this?”

“Because you want women to be child-rearing surrogates that don’t have any rights,” Metcalf said.

The man wearing a GoPro then followed Metcalf as they rode off. 

In the final part of the video, Metcalf is surrounded by police and sitting on the ground in handcuffs.

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