There are two main protesters that have been a mainstay to this demonstration from the beginning. One of them was the first protester I interacted with. Initially, he was nicknamed “The Leader”.
You can normally see him outside the clinic on Wednesday in the afternoon about an hour or so before the clinic closes. He always wears a camouflage hat and holds a sign that reads “ABORTION KILLS CHILDREN”. Whereas other protesters are fairly stationary, he’ll pace up and down the street and hold out his sign to make sure his message is on full display. For the most part, he only stands still when locked in conversation with a member of his group or when confronted by someone who disagrees with what they are doing. His other demonstrating tactic has been to make sure there’s coverage on the three sides of the building accessible from the sidewalk when there’s been more than a couple of people. Besides increasing their visibility, I believe this is because they realized someone could cut through the alleyway on the sides of the block and get in the clinic through the back entrance without having to be confronted by protesters. Clinic staff told me that they had heard him shouting that they needed someone on the side of the block because “they’re letting people through the back.” His goal seems to be to catch/harass as many patients as possible coming in and out of the clinic. When he’s brought his kids with to hold signs, I’ve seen him instructing them on how to stand and hold their signs. During one of my more close-up encounters, he was scolding the boys because they were dropping cards on the ground.
With his preachy attitude and criticisms, you would think he was a pastor. Nope. Just a zealot who believes women have been brainwashed into thinking that abortion is an option because her parents and church didn’t properly teach her the way of the Lord. Therefore, he believes that he must stand outside a clinic that doesn’t offer abortion to try and turn women away from their wickedness.
He’s one of the most judgmental people I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. He’s certainly critical of anything that’s not Christian, but he’s particularly critical of other Christians. I’ve noticed between my own experiences and speaking with others who have encountered him that he asks “Are you Christian?” to just about anyone who confronts him. He preaches about the majority of Christians being watered down and cherry picking the teachings and most of the church leaders being lukewarm so they don’t offend anyone because they’re not taking a pro-active stand at abortion like he is. There was a conversation where he criticized the Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses for having “warped the teachings”. I also recall him being negative towards Muslims and criticizing their teachings in comparison to the almighty Christianity, which is apparently so superior with its 2000+ prophecies and promises of salvation. On Facebook, he’s even more of a hardcore Christian by only preaching about the faith on that medium (or at least that’s what he presents to non-Facebook friends) while continuing to criticize other Christians. For example, after the big Life Chain event in October where pro-lifers protested on the bridge, he wrote about there being about 50 people, including 4 church leaders, who came to “stand for life”….and then went off to call the turnout pathetic in an area with 20+ church leaders and about 1,500 people. With every post, he asks what people are doing about the “torture and murder of over 3,000 innocents a day” (abortion statistics) and says people who aren’t opposed to abortion or don’t protest against it beyond prayer had parents and church leaders who failed them. Politically speaking, he says true Christians cannot be Democrats because they support homosexuality, transgender, abortions, etc and has called Democrats “soul less”. He told a commentator that he shook hands with the devil when the person admitted he was a Christian and voted for a Democrat.
And yet, there’s no indication he’s doing other things that would actually be of help to people. No conversations or Facebook posts about charitable acts he’s done to help the needy or preaching to others they should do the same. He only asks people what they’re doing about abortion and informs people when he’s going to be strutting outside the women’s clinic with his sign. Maybe he does charitable things, but why wouldn’t he be as vocal about it as he is about abortion? Or maybe he really doesn’t considering he shared a post criticizing churches of being too busy with pot lucks and other organized events that seem to benefit the church or others instead of standing against abortion. It gives the impression that he only cares about the unborn and not human beings outside the womb.
If I am to be honest, he reminds me of Frollo from Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Frollo is a character who is deeply devout and tries to convince people that his actions are justified because they are God’s will. He’s also very critical of religious leaders and because believes himself to be superior to them and the more religious than they are. But ultimately, he’s a dark, cruel, and hateful person with a lot of pride in himself and looks down on people he thinks of as lesser than himself. I see a lot of those qualities in this particular protester. As Esmeralda put it, “You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help!”
The thing about this protester is he’s initially approachable and polite enough, even if he is preachy, just as long as you listen to what he has to say and don’t outright disagree with him. Even then he can become a bit of an asshole: I remember during my first encounter with him he made the assumption that my friends were drug addicts despite not knowing anything about them on top of criticizing my lack of faith. Yet, being naturally shy, I didn’t fight back when he was a little bit a dick so he didn’t become aggressive.
Second encounter? Not so polite. A week after my letter had been published, I went to the clinic to donate a few dollars and ended up running into him on the way out as he paced up and down the side of the building. He recognized me from a month earlier and asked me in idle chit chat what I was doing that day. I explained I had donated money to the clinic so they can continue to provide services to women in the area. There was a slight pause where I could see the irritation boiling underneath the surface at the audacity that I donated funds to the women’s clinic he was protesting. The tone in his response to my contribution was peeved.
“So you took nothing from our conversation? You continue to live in ignorance!”
I was called ignorant by a man that doesn’t do research on anything outside a Bible, spreads false information about the clinic and abortion because he believes it to be true and won’t listen to the facts, and relies on blind faith to assure himself that he’s somehow helping women by doing God’s will when in reality his presence has been intimidating and not helpful at all. Who’s really continuing to live in ignorance?
I figured it was useless to point such things out so I decided to have fun instead, which only made him more ticked.
“Thanks, but I have embraced Satanism. Hail Satan!”
I must admit I couldn’t believe I had the balls to say that, but it was absolutely worth it. His face was priceless and he yelled that Satan wouldn’t save me as I headed up the street. I think I made him feel as uncomfortable as he and members of his group have made some of the patients feel.
I had nicknamed this protester “The Leader” because he seemed to be in charge of the demonstration. He eventually went by a new nickname after a few personal encounters, hearing what the clinic staff had to say about him, and watching him interact with people on the sidewalk: The Dicktator. The nickname seems appropriate for someone who acts like he’s so righteous and superior for being this hardcore, God serving Christian, but really is a pushy douche bag.