The War Womb (Part II)

For every direct action against an abortion clinic staged by Operation Rescue, expect an equal and opposite reaction by the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights.

It is the moment they've come here for: to be arrested under FACE and begin the legal challenge. But instead, the police cite the blockaders for California PC 409: failure to disperse. A state law. A misdemeanor.

Three LAPD buses draw up and the arrests begin, the police wearing white gloves and taking their time. Jeff White walks quietly away in plastic handcuffs. White's two girls come next; they're put in a separate bus. Pro-Life Anderson waits his turn. It is 10 a.m. before the last of the protesters is arrested.

Finally, BACORR arrives.
"I told you this was going to happen!" McEwen is trying not to shout in her fury at the betrayal of the Feminist Majority.

"Yesterday we went out of our way, we let them know Joe Foreman was there - they didn't even fucking know Joe Foreman. So we shared our information, we explained the situation to them. And today, we called them, we tried to get them to tell us what they knew, and they tell us, 'We don't really know what's going on. Gosh, we don't know this and we don't know that.' They lied to us. They knew it was here, and nobody would tell us."

"They let this blockade go on for an hour and a half," Weide says, jaws working furiously on a piece of gum. She moves to a spot on the sidewalk where some OR people are praying with their eyes closed.

The horses suddenly seem closer behind us. "Let's wrap up this rally," a teal FMF woman yells.

"OK, ladies and gentelmen," I can hear a police officer say, "let's step back up on the curb please. Let's start moving."

"Yeah, right," says Weide, who holds one of her "Fetus Schmetus" balloon signs. I notice she's not wearing the sling for her shoulder.

"We're going to get arrested if we're in th street," yells the FMF woman.
"Not only did they tell us they didn't know where OR was, they were here and they let them get right up to the door - they didn't offer any resistance," Weide says.

"All pro-choice people come on out, come out right now," says the teal FMF woman, "we're going to do a wrap-up rally."

Weide and McEwen and Sam and Erin start to chant over the heads of a knot of OR people praying on the sidewalk. They start clanging on light poles. They start gathering supporters, men and women around them joining in their words, "Operation Rescue, cops and Klan, work together hand in hand." The din grows. The horses clop forward.

"Ladies and gentleman," says a police officer with a bullhorn, "we want to open up this sidewalk here, and we're going to go ahead and open the sidewalk here."

"It is SHAMEFUL! SHAMEFUL!" Weide screams in his face.
"Why don't you let us sit here for an hour like you let Operation Rescue?" a cry goes up behind her.

"While you're talking, you cannot listen," the sergeant says to Weide. "I would appreciate it if you'd listen to me," he says.

"Ma'am, I want you to go ahead and open this up right now," the sergeant says, directing Weide to get off the sidewalk.

A shriek. I'm standing next to Weide when the sergeant grabs her shirt at the neck, pulls her forward, yanks her arm behind her back. "My shoulder!" she cries. "My shoulder's just been dislocated! My shoulder! I'm cooperating, I'm cooperating!"

McEwen grabs for Weide, trying to reach her. The police throw her to the pavement and pin her with their boots.

"All I said," Weide shouts, "is that it was shameful!"
Four police officers push Weide into a corner of the building and hold her; McEwen, spread-eagle and cuffed on the street, gets repeatedly>R> patted down by a female sergeant, armpits, crotch, back to the armpits, crotch again. Then they let McEwen stand and bring Weide near. The two are taken off in police cars to the Van Nuys precinct. Where they'll have company. Operation Rescue.

Weide and McEwen sat in metal handcuffs chained to a bench, faces to the wall of the Van Nuys police precinct, when they heard a familiar voice behind them. It was Jeff White, getting released from jail an hour before them. White and all but two of the other blockaders - men wanted on warrants stemming from previous demonstrations - did not spend months in jail, as the OR leaders had predicted. They were cited and released in two hours.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles says it might press FACE charges in the future, but there's no indication to date that it wil do so.

What a joke, Weide and McEwen say. The two women and other BACORR members who made it to L.A. rehash the trip at the regular weekly meeting in the Mission. Twelve people in a dim room again. Everyone's pissed. Weide and McEwen are slated to be arraigned in Los Angeles June 21 on charges of interfering with police/failure to disperse - the same charges filed against the OR blockaders. On the same day the OR is scheduled to appear.

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