Victory in Court for January 22 Stop Patriarchy Protesters

March 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The annual anti-abortion, anti-woman March for “Life” was brought to a halt for the first time ever this year as it approached the Supreme Court on January 22, the anniversary of the Court's Roe v. Wade decision 42 years ago legalizing abortion. Dozens of brave protesters led by Stop Patriarchy surged into the street and held up banners and signs calling for “Abortion On Demand and Without Apology,” along with huge portraits of women who had died because they could not get safe, legal abortions.

Police in motorized sidecars stretched across the street escorting and guarding the march and only stopped when they met an unmovable line of protesters chanting, “Without this basic right, women can't be free, Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!” This powerful and unprecedented political confrontation halted the march of hundreds of thousands of anti-abortion fanatics for close to an hour, and it was able to proceed only when eight protesters in Stop Patriarchy T-shirts were arrested and hauled out of the street by Capitol police.

They were held for hours and ordered to appear in a DC court February 11 or, the police told them, pay a fine that would carry with it a guilty plea to a misdemeanor. (They later found out the police had lied about this.) They refused to plead guilty and opted to return to court. They were charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, but their lawyers – both of whom have represented people arrested in many DC protests for progressive causes over the years – negotiated with the prosecution, and the government agreed to conclude the cases with payment of a small fine, in a “post and forfeit” arrangement that does not result in a criminal conviction.

This is a big victory not only for those arrested and their lawyers but for everyone who participated in and supported the action!

Talking with the defendants afterward, one of the attorneys said that they were proud to have been asked to represent them. He said this had been a very important action, the first time in 42 years, since Roe, that the anti-abortion march had been directly confronted. In past years, he said, you got the impression that everyone was “pro life” but this year another message got out – and it was about time!

Stop Patriarchy activists still have cases pending from arrests in Texas last summer during the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, as well as another in NYC leading up to January 22, and news about these will come soon.

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