An unknown assailant recently repeatedly disrupted, harassed and attacked a peaceful, pro-life prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood facility in San Francisco.
On March 14, an 85-year-old pro-life advocate, identified only as "Ron," participating in a peaceful 40 Days for Life campaign outside a San Francisco Planned Parenthood facility was the victim of a brutal attack when an assailant stole the victim's banner and proceeded to viciously beat the victim.
The elderly man tried to unsuccessfully stop the theft of the banner by putting a stick into the spokes of the assailant's bicycle after which the perpetrator shoved the man to the ground and began violently and repeatedly kicking and threatening him.
"40 Days for Life vigils have a 12-year track record of being peaceful. This attack on an 85-year old man—who has been leading the San Francisco campaign for years—by a young aggressor shows that the idea that San Francisco is tolerant is a joke," says Shawn Carney, president and CEO of 40 Days for Life. "We believe every person should be treated with kindness, love and respect, even those with whom we may disagree. That said, over the past few months, we have seen an increase in violence from abortion supporters in an effort to instill fear and deter our law-abiding volunteers."
The San Francisco 40 Days for Life team was victimized by the same man earlier in the week. On March 12, the perpetrator threw a sign, table and pro-life literature into the street. He knocked two men to the ground during that incident as well, including the same elderly pro-lifer he attacked again on Thursday.
The attacks were reported to law enforcement, and police officers took statements from the victims. It is not clear whether a formal investigation has been launched. Pro-lifers have not observed any additional law enforcement presence around the Planned Parenthood location since the initial attack.
Planned Parenthood allegedly has video surveillance of the area including the attacks, but it has been initially reported that the organization is unwilling to release the video or assist in the investigation.
The attack is the latest in a string of violent assaults during peaceful pro-life vigils at Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities across the nation. The new response to these peaceful vigils by the abortion industry and supporters is apparently to use threats and violence as tools.
"When it comes to offering free medical alternatives to women seeking abortion, this incident will not deter the 800,000 volunteers who have participated in 40 Days for Life campaigns in 816 cities in 56 countries. Carney said. "The pro-life movement uses science, medical alternatives and compassion to change hearts on this crucial issue. Planned Parenthood supporters have resorted to intimidation, insults and violence. They have a long history of not granting dignity to the unborn, and that now apparently applies to 85-year-old volunteers as well."
Life Legal is representing the elderly victim, who is in fear for his safety.
"The vicious attack against our elderly client is intolerable," said Allison Aranda, Life Legal senior counsel and former prosecutor of the year. "We will pursue all legal avenues to see that justice is served and that the freedom to speak freely on the public sidewalk without threat of physical violence is protected no matter the message. As a former prosecutor, I trust that the San Francisco district attorney's office will pursue all legal charges against the perpetrator and bring him to justice."
"We are appalled by this brazen assault against an elderly man who was simply exercising his First Amendment rights on a public sidewalk," said Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. "Life Legal will not sit by and allow the escalation of violence to continue, and we are working to ensure that pro-life advocates are protected and that perpetrators are brought to justice."
Matt Britton is General Counsel for 40 Days for Life and a four-term elected prosecutor.
Upon learning of the attack, Britton said, "40 Days for Life will always support and defend its vigilant and peaceful prayer volunteers. As a former elected prosecutor, I have reviewed thousands of cases of violence, and anyone who would make such a brutal, vicious assault and robbery of an elderly, peaceful man should end up in the penitentiary where he can do no more harm. It is unconscionable that in the United States of America, law-abiding citizens are not free to peacefully express their opinions without the fear of thugs like this. I hope that the great City of San Francisco, which has so many protests of all types, recognizes and protects this basic American principle of freedom of speech by investigating, apprehending and punishing this shameful assailant."
Carney recently spoke with Charisma about the new pro-life film, Unplanned. Listen to the podcast to hear his interview.
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