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'You can’t trespass and you can’t block vehicles:' Six anti-abortion protesters arrested during protest

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 18:32:34-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Six anti-abortion protesters were arrested Wednesday morning during a protest in front of the Heritage Clinic for Women on Fulton Street.

“We’re all just a bunch of Christians out here to uphold the law, both God’s which says abortion is murder and now thankfully man’s law that now agrees with that,” said Jordan, a pro-life supporter who was demonstrating Wednesday morning. “So, we’re out here to save babies lives and uphold that law, serving Christ because Christ gave his life for many, for all who would repent and believe in Him.”

Jordan was among of group of 40 protesters who were on the sidewalk holding bibles and pro-life/anti-abortion signs.

Within minutes, the police were called.

“The building called 9-1-1 and said there was a group blocking the entrances. So, the police officers went and sure enough there’s about 40 protesters there, and three of them were leaning against the door,” said Police Chief Eric Winstrom. “The officers let them know that the individuals inside want access to that door. It’s a private building. So, they were warned several times that they’d be arrested for trespassing if they did not move away from the door.”

None moved, he said, including the people who were blocking the driveway not allowing vehicles in and out. So, six people in total were arrested. Three were charged with trespassing and the other three with failure to obey.

“For a police officer we don’t write the law. We just enforce it,” Chief Winstrom said. “For us this morning it wasn’t about the abortion law or Roe v. Wade. It’s simply the law as it is in Grand Rapids and that is you can’t trespass and you can’t block vehicles you know. This is a private building and they wanted access to their driveway.”

Jordan said that the protesters were released within two hours of the arrest. They’ll continue to protest and provide alternatives like adoption and helping women get out of abusive situations and relationships, he said.

Chief Winstrom said he acknowledges that the group was exercising their first amendment right. However, the law has two be abided by, even if you’re just on the sidewalk.

“If you’re completely blocking the sidewalk it can be an issue,” Chief Windstorm said. “Generally speaking it’s ok to protest on the sidewalk. Once you’re actually on the lawn, if that’s a private lawn and that individual doesn’t want you on that lawn, it’s their right to ask you to leave the lawn or have the police remove you from the lawn.”

Chief Winstrom also recommended organizers of any protest getting permits from the Grand Rapids Office of Special Events to protest, especially if marching is involved.

“No matter how righteous you believe what you're saying is, how great the cause is that you’re engaging in, it's still incumbent on you to follow the laws," Chief Winstrom said.