Shelter from the Rain

Stormy and cold weather when you are escorting has good and bad points to it. The good points: there are fewer antis out; the antis that are out usually huddle near the clinic entrance instead of along the sidewalk; clients and companions arriving move quickly around any of the antis grouped together. The bad points: umbrellas in the hands of antis can be hazardous; escorts get wet and cold, depending on the weather; once in awhile  there are delays in opening the clinic doors. In my opinion for the most part, the good points actually outweigh the bad points. There are always exceptions, but the morning I am writing about had more good in the balance.

The morning was stormy with waves of rain coming at us in downpours. There were only a few antis out and they were standing under the overhang at the clinic entrance. Only a few were walking up and down the sidewalk with umbrellas. A little after 730a clients started lining up near the doors to wait for them to open. We all kept waiting. Because of the bad weather, the staff at the clinic were delayed getting to work. By the time the doors did open, all of the clients and their companions were under the overhang waiting.

This was an empowered group of clients and companions. They were talking among themselves and for the most part ignoring the antis. When we made announcements on why there was a delay in opening the doors, they understood and passed the information along to new clients and companions as they arrived. One escort said, “ It was really heart warming. New people would come, and they would welcome them into the fold.” The clients and companions were supporting each other and blocking the words of the antis, or speaking up to the antis to tell them to leave them all alone.

All of the antis were on the other side of the property line under the rest of the overhang. They had a captive audience who were ignoring them as a group.

 

The pillars mark the property line.

The pillars mark the property line.

The anti we call “Camera J” was holding his camcorder up trying to intimidate the clients and companions. One companion threatened to “..slap your camera out of your hand. You better not film me.” He backed away a little, but still kept holding his camcorder up. If he was recording, he got a lot of shots of the backs of people. D and AR were standing toe-to-toe with the escorts between the two pillars, saying the usual things they say to shame and harass clients.

The last client and companion to arrive were close to the property line. The companion had their arm around the client and they were both responding to AR’s words. They kept telling her to leave them alone and that she didn’t understand. Not phased a bit, AR kept on saying “Just come to A Women’s Choice and talk to us about your options. You don’t have to kill this baby.” Finally the client said, “My baby doesn’t have a heart and neither do you. Leave us alone.” At that point I said to AR, “She has asked you three times to leave her alone. Now it is harassment. You are harassing her and that is illegal.” The expected response was received. “I am not harassing her. She knows I just want to help.” The client said, “You are harassing me. Leave me alone.” Compassionate as always, AR responded, “Then you are truly alone,” but she did remain silent after that.

What was really great to watch was after this exchange the other clients and companions immediately moved to the client, who was now crying. They talked to her and brought the client and companion into the center of the waiting people to buffer them from any further encounters with “sidewalk counselors.”

The other amazing thing was the actions of the group also spread a blanket of silence over the other antis for the remainder of the time waited. Some of the antis, including Camera J, wandered to the overhang of the CPC to shelter from the  rain. AR stood alone where she was, but silently. The doors opened and everyone went in without further exchanges.

I agree with the other escort. The clients and companions made what could have been a difficult time standing in front of the doors one of mutual support and compassion.

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday 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:

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Shelter from the Rain

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