Usually, at the clinic I stay at the end of the block farthest away from the clinic and do the walk up the gauntlet. Here’s one side of the gauntlet:
But last Saturday, I moved to the parking lot behind the pawn shop for the day. It’s far enough away from the preachers that I can’t hear them all the time. And even though it’s not as long a walk as the one from the corner, it’s through just as much chaos.
In the midst of all that, I was trying to amuse myself by making snarky comments, more or less under my breath, and trying to remember them for this blog post. Unfortunately ~ or fortunately ~ I’ve forgotten most of them. I think they were probably not as funny as they seemed at the time.
For example, as I was watching the teenagers jumping up and down on the corner, with the sign that says “Honk if you’re Pro-Life,” I commented to Servalbear, “Sheesh, it looks like they think it’s a frigging car wash. And what’s the deal? If they get enough people to honk, do they get to go home early?” Which was probably a lot funnier to me at the time than it is now.
But there was at least one feel-good incident.
I’m in the parking lot with Servalbear and a couple of other escorts. A van pulls in. There is a man ~ middle-aged ~ a woman about the same age, and a younger woman, whom I assume is their daughter. We approach the van, do our introduction, and the woman says, yes, she wants us to walk with them. But she doesn’t get out of the van.
That’s not unusual, so we step back and wait. The protester M approaches the van and starts to press up against the door on the drivers side, as she does.
The door opens and the man gets out. He has to push the door against M to open it, and as he does, we hear this deep voice say, “Move away from my car.” He’s opening the door at the same time, so M is physically pushed away.
He steps out. He’s a large man, but beyond that, he has presence. He stations himself several feet away from the car, and there is something about his stance that holds M back. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that happen before. It was a special moment.
He stands as if on guard, watching the car. Servalbear went to him and said in a low voice, “You know youall can drop her off at the door if you want to.”
Without taking his eyes off his van, he says, “We’ve got this covered.” Not harsh or rude, just solid.
Servalbear steps back too. We wait. Even M is quiet.
And then S comes bouncing onto the scene, in her flip-flops, with her shrill voice, walking up to the van proclaiming, “You don’t have to do this…”
I start to say, “S ~ don’t ~” when he booms, “Step away from my car.”
And she does.
She looks at me, and I raise an eyebrow, shrug just a touch. “He doesn’t want anyone up by the car,” and she steps back.
That was a moment. I can still see it in my mind. With the force of his personality, he held them at bay.
And then the women ~ the older one, and the younger one, who might have been his daughter ~ got out of the car. The younger one had a towel completely covering her head and face, so we were an interesting procession as we moved through the crowd.
It still makes me feel good, when I remember that moment in the parking lot when he held the protesters back with his voice, his stance, his presence.
But then it makes me sad.
Because really, it shouldn’t take a large man with military bearing and a tone of authority to command respect. Really, we all deserve to be heard.
REMINDER: Our annual fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!
The Sunday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year. It also is the date where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts. You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.
Use this form to make your pledge:
Oh wow, that was an amazing story. Sad that it had to happen, but powerful nonetheless because of how he stopped them with nothing but his voice and his presence. I am immensely envious of people who can do that.
Any chance you could get him to come along with you and your group?
Thanks, Kazei5, it was great.
Yeah, I don’t think he’d be interested in being an escort ~ and of course we wouldn’t have any way to get in touch with him now ~ and I don’t don’t know if he’d have the same power week after week.
Besides, I don’t know that the protective stance is super helpful with escorting. But that’s a whole other discussion. Maybe my next post… thanks!
I’ve had to do the same thing for my acquaintance L quite recently when I took her to the clinic, the parking lot was very full and we had to park at the edge of it near the drive way and the antis. Little 5ft, 100lb me stared down a few of our more vocal protestors. Later L
said I looked ready pounce (wide eyed and bushy tailed she called it) and that was probably what kept them from seizing on her vocally.
If I had needed to I would have explained that her pregnancy was being terminated for suspected fetal anomalies as L is fighting an addiction to meth but it wasn’t necessary, my wild stare held their crazy at bay.
Do ya’lls protestors stick around all day or do they disappear like ours do? Sometime in the middle of the day, I guess after all the patients have arrived, our protestors leave – we rarely see any of them on the way out. I guess this is a blessing but it seems incongruous to me.
I can just visualize the wild-eyed and bushy tailed!
The majority of our protesters leave around 830a-9a, but there are always some out there at different times during the day. We tell clients most of them will be gone, but never tell them all of them will be gone.
Nice work, Oubli! You must have been pretty powerful.
Here, even when people try to explain their circumstances, even when they explain that the fetus is already dead, or that the pregnancy would kill the mother, the protesters keep talking. I always say trying to talk to them is like talking to a tape recorder, there’s just no point.
On Saturdays anyhow, most of the protesters leave at the same time we do. Somehow that cracks me up ~ not that it’s really funny… But they’ll start packing up the statues as we take off our vests.
His presence was a moment to remember, but I agree it is sad it has to be necessary to command respect. It should be freely given to everyone.
Yes. I think of all the times I’ve heard people beg to be left alone only to be ignored and talked over…