By Deborah Riffenburgh — As threats against sidewalk counselors increase during the COVID-19 health crisis, thousands of people have signed a petition of support for the brave men and women who stand on the front lines. That petition is now being delivered, and local police departments, city councils, and politicians are starting to take notice.
The Personhood Alliance partnered with LifeSiteNews to launch a petition to demand that that the rights of sidewalk counselors be protected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Affiliates and allies of the Personhood Alliance have hand-delivered more than 15,000 signatures to state and local leaders around the country, in the communities most impacted by sidewalk counselors’ arrests and threats of arrest for peacefully witnessing outside abortion facilities. These arrests and threats are egregious violations of First Amendment rights.
Delivery in Maryland
Gualberto Garcia Jones, President of the Personhood Alliance, delivered the petition signatures to the mayor, city council, and chief of police in Hagerstown, Maryland, where local prayer warriors have been continuously harassed outside a local abortion facility and threatened with fines up to $5,000.
Georgia Kijesky, president of our affiliate Personhood Maryland, is determined to get the petition into Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s hands as well – by certified mail if necessary.
Delivery in Wisconsin
Our affiliate Pro-Life Wisconsin’s legislative director Matt Sande and state director Dan Miller delivered over 15,000 signatures to Representative Shae Sortwell. Brave Wisconsin pro-lifers continue to witness under threat of arrest, but have determined that as long as abortion clinics are open, their truly essential life-saving work must go on. Pro-Life Wisconsin is also petitioning Governor Tony Evers to shut down the state’s abortion facilities for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency order.
Delivery in North Carolina
Multiple people have been arrested in North Carolina, on at least three separate occasions. This included 11 sidewalk counselors from Love Life Charlotte and David Benham, founder of Cities4Life. You can watch the Facebook video of Benham’s arrest here. Pastor Keith Pavlansky, president of our affiliate Personhood North Carolina, an organization that partners with Love Life Charlotte, helped bail out those who were arrested. Pastor Keith delivered petitions to the Greensboro city council and police department and said they are already beginning to see changes take place:
“The petition is a way for the entire body of Christ to pull itself together and to show a solidarity and a unity that needs to exist there. So I just want to pass along a thank you. There’s already been a big difference, a huge difference in the city of Greensboro in regards to these pastors that were arrested.”
Delivery in California
Pro-lifers in Ventura, California, joined with me to personally deliver petitions to the Police Chief and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. In a surprising show of support, one of the officers told us:
“You are welcome to keep doing what you are doing, and you don’t need to leave. America has freedom of speech.”
In San Francisco, Robert Byrd, Executive Coordinator at Pro-Life San Francisco; Enggrid Tija of San Francisco Life Runners; and local activist Matthew Prewett, took the petition to the Ingleside Police Station and the San Francisco City Attorney’s office. They are also requesting a public apology for the arrest of long-time sidewalk advocate Ron Konopaski.
Our petition with LifeSiteNews is still active, and now has over 16,000 signatures. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to add your name. If you’ve already signed, THANK YOU.
This is one simple way we can all make a difference during these uncertain times—one powerful way to send a message that says, “We will not be silenced!”
Deborah Riffenburgh is the social media coordinator for the Personhood Alliance and has been active in pro-life media for several years. But most importantly, she’s a California mom who is fighting against the lies of our culture and for the protection of every human being without exception.