Sunday, January 24, 2021

Columbus pro-life on 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

I know many of my FBF are "pro-choice" and would never participate in a protest that violated a church service or memorial, just as 99.9999% of Trump supporters didn't support the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. But here's the company you keep. (long)

Beth at Greater Columbus Right to Life: "Yesterday was the 48th anniversary of Roe v Wade. The Central Ohio community commemorated it in much the same way that we always have. Last Sunday, many churches that we partner with observed Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Monday through Friday, some of our volunteers went to pray and sidewalk counsel at a local abortion clinic. Yesterday, we participated in the annual Respect Life Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral, celebrated by Bishop Robert J. Brennan and concelebrated by Bishop Edward C. Malesic and several priests. Following the Mass, those in attendance processed over to the West Lawn of the Statehouse where they were joined by others for our event, the Roe Remembrance.

We typically hold the Roe event inside the Atrium. Because of restrictions due to the coronavirus, we held the event outside this year. We applied for and were granted a permit for the West Lawn of the Statehouse. In observance of Statehouse rules, we also applied for and paid for the availability of two Ohio State Highway Patrol officers to provide security. Finally, we arranged for use of Statehouse audio equipment, chairs, etc., knowing that if the day were deemed too cold we would not be able to use that equipment. On Thursday, we were notified that it was going to be too cold, and so we brought the small sound system that GCRTL owns. It is typically able to project to a crowd of 200-300 without difficulty.
As many of you have now heard, a small group of disruptive, hateful, and obscene abortion advocates stormed past the special duty police officer providing security and into the Cathedral during the last part of Bishop Brennan’s homily (a homily is the sermon that follows the reading of the Gospel). They rushed to the front of the Church, shouting explicit and hateful things, frightening families and children, and attempting to reach the altar. As Bishop Brennan noted in his statement, participants in the Mass responded with some seeking to protect the priests and the altar and others kneeling in prayer. The Columbus police responded immediately, and the group was taken outside. Allegedly each had “forgotten” their identification and they were released by the police.

Identification will not be difficult, however, as we and our events are frequently the objects of their vulgar, disruptive, violent, and threatening behavior. Please do not think that this is outlier behavior. It is not only tolerated but encouraged by the local abortion industry. One of the group leaders is employed by WHO, a local organization that raises money to pay for abortion; it is reasonable to believe that yesterday’s behavior was used to excite their volunteer and donor base. That same person has been a guest on NARAL Ohio’s podcast and been highlighted by local media for her social justice advocacy work. 

I hope, but am not confident, that these organizations and the media will immediately repudiate and disentangle themselves from people who would knowingly and intentionally violate the sacred space of a Church during worship.

I left the Mass, exiting at the side, to set up the Roe Remembrance. From a block away, I saw the numerous squad cars at the Cathedral and communicated with someone inside who called me to let me know what happened. I immediately notified our Ohio State Highway Patrol team of what had happened at the Cathedral and that because the group was not arrested they would likely proceed to the Statehouse to continue their disruption. Because we at GCRTL are very familiar with their behavior, I let the officer know that as I understood it, our permit granted us exclusive use of the grounds, that if protestors want to stand in the background and hold signs, we should let them, but if they became disruptive, I would like them to be removed from the reserved area of the Statehouse grounds and removed to the public sidewalks. There was no dissent to that plan voiced, and I went back to preparations.

Right before the program began, the group attempted to block the access to the West Lawn by blocking the path. I notified the OSHP officer, who dispersed them. Then they began running through our event with voice amplifications and loud noisemakers (sirens, etc.). 

I asked the OSHP that they be removed, and was told that wouldn’t be possible but that they would be gathered in a grassy area and kept quiet. We began the program a little late, and they used the loud sirens and voice amplification to shout obscene, vulgar, and demeaning things. At one point, they laughed that their sound system was louder than ours. 

I approached a OSHP officer and noted that Columbus City ordinances prohibit the use of voice amplification that can be heard more than 50 feet and that they should be removed from the grounds we had been granted a permit for. The patrolman indicated that they had not been enforcing the noise ordinance since the summer protests, that they could not remove the group, and that his supervisor was now on scene and talking to them. I was very disappointed in this determination, as I do not think it accurately reflects the terms of the permit we were granted and instead was more applicable to spontaneous or planned, but not permitted, protests. We paid no small amount to host the event at the Statehouse going through the proper channels. I will, however, address that situation separately with the Capital Square Review and Advisory Board. Our streaming team notified me that because of our microphone system feeding directly to video, those watching via the stream could hear our speakers clearly. Our in-person participants had to listen extra carefully and perhaps did not catch every word, but we were able to go forward, ignoring the chaos and hate and violence of the world.

I was disappointed that we were not able to have them removed from an event, an event which is not a rally and not a protest but a somber memorial of the unborn who have died. This was, in essence, a eulogy that was interrupted for over an hour by loud and vulgar protestors. I do want to commend the officers, who took a great deal of abusive and belittling behavior from the protestors calmly and without malice. You may have noticed that their shouts and signs were equally against pro-life activities, faith, and the police. This has also been a consistent theme of their group and organization."

(includes video or the protesters entering the church)

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