An elderly pro-life volunteer was violently assaulted last Thursday by a younger male abortion-rights advocate during a peaceful protest outside a San Francisco Planned Parenthood clinic.
The perpetrator, an athletic white man clad in black, attacked an 85-year-old 40 Days for Life volunteer, whose full name has not been released out of concerns for his safety, outside the San Francisco Health Center last week. In the incident, which was filmed on a cell phone by another 40 Days volunteer, Imelda Jacquez, the younger man attempted to ride away on a bicycle after stealing a 40 Days for Life banner that the group said was legally placed outside the clinic. The volunteer, named Ron, is seen trying to stop the assailant by placing the pole on which the banner had been mounted into the spokes of his bicycle. The younger man then shoves his bike at Ron, knocks him to the ground, and hits and kicks him repeatedly while verbally threatening him.
According to 40 Days for Life, the police were called after the attack, entered the Planned Parenthood clinic, and asked for the surveillance video of the incident, but clinic employees refused to turn it over, citing confidentiality concerns. (Planned Parenthood did not return a request for comment.) San Francisco police public-information officer Robert Rueca confirmed that an investigation has been opened into the assault, and that police have obtained a cell-phone video of the incident and are reviewing it.
“An elderly man and a suspect got into an altercation where the suspect assaulted the elderly man and stole a sign that the victim was using for a planned protest,” Rueca told National Review, before adding that police are still “looking to identify the suspect and ultimately place them into custody.”
Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF), which is representing Ron, said the same perpetrator had previously knocked him and another man to the ground on the afternoon of March 19, throwing a sign, table, and literature belonging to the pro-life group into the street. In addition, LLDF claimed that earlier on the day of Thursday’s attack, the suspect came by with scissors and cut down the banner he would later try to steal.
“I think the violence from the culture of death needs to be exposed. It is the embodiment of their agenda,” Ron told National Review.
— Life Legal (@LifeLegal) March 26, 2019
Paramedics recommended that Ron visit the hospital as he was badly bruised and had extremely high blood pressure, but he ended up going home instead and is now “in good spirits,” according to Shawn Carney, CEO of 40 Days for Life.
“I thought he handled himself well, and the whole thing is unfortunate,” said Carney, who described Ron as a “sweet old man” with a “joyful and compassionate approach” to women who are seeking or have already had an abortion.
The pro-life protesters were “using their rights to be law-abiding, to be peaceful. And they’re just blatantly attacked in front of these Planned Parenthood workers, and they do nothing to help,” Carney said.
“40 Days for Life will always support and defend its vigilant and peaceful prayer volunteers,” said Matt Britton, the group’s general counsel, in a statement. “Anyone who would make such a brutal, vicious assault and robbery of an elderly, peaceful man should end up in the penitentiary where he can do no more harm.”
Authorities have been “slow in responding” to the legal team’s requests for information and have not provided any increased police presence at the San Francisco abortion clinic, said LLDF executive director Alexandra Snyder.
“We are not going to sit by and let this happen,” Snyder added. “Exercising your right to speech on a public sidewalk is a constitutionally protected right, and we are going to ensure that that right remains protected.”