Parking at the clinic is always interesting, especially on Saturday. It can be especially interesting when there is an event downtown. This past Saturday there was an event for runners that drew about 8500 participants. Many races start near the riverfront like this one did. It is just a few blocks from the clinic, so the streets were full of cars looking for parking. The sidewalks were full of runners making their way to the starting line. Everyone was looking for a place to park and groups of 20-30 people walking on the sidewalk to the starting line passed the normal Saturday morning drama at the clinic.
There were so many people streaming on the sidewalks the antis even broke from their normal harassment of clients and companions and started preaching to the groups of runners as they waited on the corner for the light to change. When the runners passed us farther down the street, we received many smiles, nods and ‘Thank you’ from those passing. Of course, we got some scowls too. I am sure they were not happy to be caught in the middle of the drama in order to participate in a run.
We were standing at the entrance of a private parking lot we have permission from the owner to use. In addition to clients and companions, we were giving directions to people looking for parking to attend the race. One car pulled over to where I was standing and asked, “Where do I park?” I asked, “Are you going to the clinic?” The driver answered no, he was going to the race. I gave him instructions for a pay lot around the corner from where we were standing and he drove off.
Less than a minute later, I was approached by a protester. He asked, “Are you telling people they cannot park in a public lot?” I answered, “No.” “Well this is a public lot. You can’t tell people not to park here.” Giving this admonishment he walked back to the clinic to harass more clients and race participants.
My personal goal to not engage in talk with antis is really hard to follow sometimes. When I do not speak up when confronted with something so error-ridden, I feel guilty about not standing up. It is not the way I handle things normally, but escorting at the clinic is not a normal social situation. Letting this comment pass was so hard. I did not want to engage nor get into an argument with this protester because it just adds chaos and never helps the clients, but I really wanted to respond. I regret the missed opportunity.
One thing I could have said is, “Can you read?” There are signs posted on all sides of the parking lot about it being a private lot for the business.
Another thing I could have said was, “We have permission to use this lot from the owner. When you park in the lot you are trespassing.”
Thinking the words and sharing them with you isn’t the same as saying them to the protester. I feel evasive for not speaking up. I console myself with the belief it wouldn’t have made any difference. The sense of entitlement the antis hold is not something that can be broken by facts or logic.
REMINDER: March 10 is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers