September/October, 1997 Volume XII Number 8

Artwork is a "bomb" to police

West Palm Beach, FL -- Artist Randi Joe Grantham gets no respect -- especially from police.
Grantham, 33, is the Florida artist whose pro-life depictions have upset the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) when he has mailed them to abortionists and clinics throughout the country (Life Advocate May 1996), and the Washington, D.C. Police who stopped him when he attempted to show his work on the public sidewalk outside the U.S. Supreme Court building (Life Advocate, February/March 1997).
More recently neither the U.S. Postal Service nor any of the common carriers like FedEx and UPS have been delivering or returning his packages -- even though he clearly displays the return address.
"I then started sending my artwork by Registered Mail," Grantham says. "I have sent out about 20 or more and have received only two cards back. Even they took a couple of months to get back."
Grantham was so frustrated that he delivered one of the packages personally on May 15 to Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach -- leaving it on the sidewalk outside the abortuary for fear of being charged with trespassing.
The art piece he delivered was a clear, faceted Lucite block with "ghost" unborn twin children suspended inside.
He heard nothing for a couple of months until a reporter from the Palm Beach Post called him about a police "blotter" report that the bomb squad had responded to the package by cordoning off the area for several hours and blowing off the cardboard box's lid with a water cannon.
The reporter told Grantham that the police asked her not to write up the story so as not to give Grantham any publicity but admitted that there were no charges that could be brought against the artist.
"This is how he expresses his freedom of speech," said Sgt. John Johnson of the West Palm Beach Police.
But the story did not end with the newspaper's report on the incident. Shortly after the report, Grantham was in a local mall when a stranger approached him from behind, asked him not to look at him, and began to warn him that if he persisted with his artwork and activities, he could be in danger.
The large man claimed he was a friend and that Grantham's free speech demonstrations were viewed in certain quarters as a "national threat" and that the artist should "think very hard about what you are doing."
While the incident scared Grantham, he says, "I will not let anyone scare me out of expressing myself the way I have been doing."
Grantham's most recent piece, entitled "Will there ever be peace?" and created shortly after the abortuary bombing in Atlanta, Georgia, shows an unborn child balanced precariously on top of two pipe bombs.

Copyright © 1997 Advocates for Life Ministries