I met the Survivors in Alabama. I was arrested in Mississippi.
My 100th arrest. But it is not about me.
It is about the young Survivors and what I saw.
I flew to Alabama to meet with the Survivors Campus Outreach Team. Mary Rose was leading her first cross country tour. Bobby was the new team captain and James Conrad, our new Director of Training, was with them. It was a perfect opportunity to bond with our all-new leadership team.
But the next few days would open my eyes and stir the passion within me.
By the time I had arrived the team had already suffered an illegal arrest at Pearl-Cohn High School in Nashville, Tennessee. Without warning, the police just swooped in and arrested members of the team as they handed out literature.
The evening I arrived, the team shared with me some of the injustices they had already suffered at the hands of school administrators and police while on this trip.
Free speech does not exist on college campuses outside of California I was told. Colleges could simply tell you to leave and completely deny your right to speak on public college campuses.
I was in complete disbelief. It had been a while since I had traveled cross-country with the Survivors, but surely our First Amendment Rights had not eroded that far already!
I couldn't believe what I was hearing so I called my favorite civil rights attorney and asked her. She told me the bad news - it was true. There were no free speech rights on public college campuses in most of the states outside of California.
The next day I went with the Survivors to the University of Alabama and sure enough we were pushed to the sidewalk. We handed out literature as best we could from the fringe of the campus. I was not happy. This just wasn't right!
We left Alabama and went to Mississippi and things went from bad to worse!
Mary Rose decided our first stop in Mississippi would be Jackson State University. As the Survivors prepared to set up and hand out literature they were told to stop right there by police and to not do anything until the police had heard from the administration.
Mary Rose was politely seeking the right to be on campus but was met with a cold response: You have to leave: Now. Not only that but we were told we could not be on campus a tall whether we were handing out literature or not.
We were told we were not welcome on campus at all.
When we got to the edge of campus I was met by a Sergeant from the police department that told me we could set up there on the edge of campus on the public sidewalk.
By this time I had resigned myself to being a second class citizen because I was pro-life and started to set up with the team in preparation to begin the outreach.
But again things went from bad to worse!!!
Mary Rose had continued to speak with the university administration and now was standing with the general counsel (the university attorney) for Jackson State University on the sidewalk discussing how to get access to the campus.
He calls out to the Sergeant and points to us on the sidewalk and says, "They can't be there." The Sergeant then orders us all off the sidewalk in front of the college. We all left the sidewalk until Mary Rose could speak some sense into the situation but there was no talking to this university attorney.
He was arrogant and condescending to Mary Rose. He stated with a pompous air: "I can make the required time frame for approval to be on campus anything I want it to be."
He said we could stand on the sidewalk across the street from the main campus but that Jackson University owned the sidewalk and he was being courteous to allow us to be on any sidewalk surrounding the campus.
I had heard enough. I told the police almost every sidewalk is privately owned but it is still a public sidewalk. I looked to Mary Rose and told her I was going back across.
The Sergeant and even the Chief of Police politely asked me not to force the issue but I explained that this was such a basic civil right I could not allow the university attorney to arbitrarily strip me of my first amendment rights.
I told the police I was passionate about defending civil rights and that I was compelled to challenge this illegal order.
So I crossed the street knowing my arrest was imminent.
And here is the irony of it all: Do you know where I was standing?
I was standing on the public sidewalk at stop number 47 of the City of Jackson Civil Rights Tour!!! Site 47 is the former location of the office of Dr. Miller who posted bail for college students arrested for doing a sit- in on a bus to win the right to sit at the front of the bus.
So here comes the real irony. The university attorney, Mr. Taylor, had the audacity to tell me I was being stubborn because the distance from where I was standing and where he told me I could stand was only 30 feet.
I turned to him and said, "Well 30 feet is about the distance from the back of the bus to the front of the bus and I'm not going to be at the back of the bus! I have a right to be here, at the front of the bus!"
As I stood on that sidewalk, holding my sign and stack of literature I didn't even get a chance to hand out one piece before the police came to arrest me. First they took my sign and then my literature and I eventually just knelt on the sidewalk and waited for them to cuff me. I called out to students nearby to tell them what was happening.
The Survivors watched as I was arrested, I had asked that no one go with me, it was not necessary for more of us to be arrested.
I was arrested and released in short time and got on the phone with attorneys at Life Legal Defense Foundation and a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit is being prepared as I write this letter!
The Survivors will return to civil rights marker number 47 with their civil rights restored!
But all that was just the work the Survivors do day after day. They suffer threats of arrest and sometimes actual illegal arrests. The young Survivors hand out thousands of pieces of life saving literature and engage in dozens of life changing conversations every day. That is their mission - that is what they do!!! And I am proud of them.
What I didn't know, until I rode with them and saw it for myself, was what they didn't have.
Every day I rode with them they ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches- without complaint. The reason I mention so trivial a fact is because I want you to know these Survivor young people are not whiners.
And the things I am going to share with you are not complaints by the team but rather observations I made firsthand and determined as I flew home I was going to write you and ask for your help. The team has some very real needs that would make their efforts more effective and yes,even a little more comfortable.
First, how about buying a portable refrigerator so they could make sandwiches with deli meats instead of peanut butter and jelly every day? How about a fresh salad? I know it doesn't seem like much but I tell you it would be a nice gesture of our love for these young people.
But here is my list of much more important equipment these young people need!!!
My arrest was recorded on two Go-pro body cameras on loan to Survivors. The arrogant statements of the JSU attorney that will win our day in court, all recorded.
I want every Survivor on the Campus Outreach Team to be wearing one of the cameras.The conversations these cameras will record will be invaluable, not just in court but also as training tools for camp and for online training videos. Also the team really needs one high quality camera with an external mic to do interviews on campus and on the street!
Having this basic equipment affords the team protection against the lies of policeman, administrators and passersby who lie all the time about what our young people said or did.
But they will also get heart rending stories of lives changed and babies saved. They will capture the wonderful moments that make their work so rewarding and be able to share those with you and with others. The video of my arrest got over 2000 impressions within 24 hours of being posted. Video is the medium of the day and I want to make sure the Survivors are equipped!!!
A refrigerator, GoPro cameras for every team member, and a high quality camera with external mic top the list but I kept my eyes open and made a note so I could ask for your help in getting everything the team needs to get their job done.
Some might seem trivial but I assure you every one of these items are truly needed by the team to do their job. They sacrifice their time so the least we can do is make sure they are equipped to do it well.
They need a step bumper for the van and grab handles to pull themselves up when loading and unloading, and better storage racks to keep everything organized. They need handcarts and dollies to lug all their equipment to and fro.
They need a laptop with editing software to be able to produce videos and news briefs while on the road. Right no they are borrowing the use of one. And they do trainings, and their projector is on its last legs.
This is basic equipment that will multiply the effect of their efforts and sacrifice!
They didn't ask me for any of this, I observed it firsthand. I am asking you to help me get everything this team needs to do their job right! The better equipped this team is the more lives will be saved, more hearts changed and hundreds of young people will be better trained.
I said earlier - when speaking of the arrests and threats of arrests, the countless hours in all sorts of weather the Survivors endure to speak out on behalf of the babies - "That is what they do!"
I hope you agree with me when I say this is what we do - you and I make sure these young people have what they need to do their ministry well.
Will you help me take care of these needs? Will you give an extra special gift to make sure these young people are equipped to make the most of their sacrifice? If you can give $35 to buy a dolly or grab handles or $50 to get some storage racks for the van it will all help to better equip this team.
Maybe you can help with a GoPro camera or the extended life batteries, or the new laptop or interview style video camera with external mic capabilities. Your gift of$75, $100 or even $250 will equip this team to be all they can be.
And that is what we do!!! You and I make it possible for these young people to be effective on the road and to make the most of their sacrifice through our sacrifice.
Thank you for helping our young Survivors, they can't do it without you. This is a true partnership for life. Please send the best gift you can in the envelope I have enclosed and may God bless you for all you do for His little ones.
Your friend for life,
Founder, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust
P.S. This letter is not about my arrest, it is about these Survivors and their courageous and tireless efforts on campuses across this country. I saw these needs firsthand. Please send a gift right now to fill every one of these needs and to make their sacrifice more effective.