Police Arrest More than 400 Anti-Abortion Protesters in Three Cities
CHICAGO (AP) _ More than 220 anti-abortion demonstrators were arrested here Saturday morning as throngs of protesters from both sides of the issue converged to draw attention to their views on Mother’s Day weekend.
Nearly 200 other anti-abortion protesters were arrested in demonstrations in Pittsburgh and outside San Francisco.
In St. Paul, Minn., more than 5,000 people held a rally at the state Capitol to demand that abortion remain legal in the United States and to denounce protests against clinics that perform abortions. Demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as ″Mother’s Day Not Mandatory.″
Chicago police arrested 143 men and 80 women at the Park Medical Center and charged them with resisting arrest and mob action, said police spokeswoman Tina Vicini. The street was closed to traffic.
Police broke up occasional sidewalk skirmishes between the demonstrators and abortion rights protesters. Other anti-abortion demonstrators were stationed at more than 25 clinics throughout the city, organizers said.
Park Medical Center continued seeing patients, and abortion rights activists vowed to stay until the clinic had treated the last of 21 patients. The clinic performs a range of gynecological services besides abortions.
Police earlier estimated more than 300 people had been arrested. The confusion arose because the arrests so overtaxed the local police district that protesters had to be sent to four other stations to be processed, Ms. Vicini said. Detainees further clogged the system by giving their names only as ″Baby John Doe″ and ″Baby Jane Doe,″ police said. Most carried no identification.
In California, about 100 anti-abortion demonstrators were arrested Saturday outside a clinic in Redwood City, about 10 miles south of San Francisco, police said. Also arrested were five to 10 abortion rights demonstrators involved in a brief scuffle with the activists representing Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, said Police Chief Tony Guardino.
All were arrested for investigation of blocking a public sidewalk, an infraction, and were cited and released, Guardino said.
In Pittsburgh, 84 demonstrators were arrested for refusing to leave a women’s clinic that performs abortions, and three of the protesters were charged with assaulting police officers, said Officer Tom Melick.
A spokeswoman for Operation Rescue, which organized that demonstration as well, charged that police repeatedly kicked one protest leader, Keith Tucci of Pittsburgh.
Tucci was listed in fair condition at Mercy Hospital, where he was being treated for abdominal injuries, according to nursing supervisor Dorothy McKendry.
Tucci said as many as four officers kicked him after he complained police were kicking demonstrators as they put them in a paddy wagon and threw them on top of each other.
″I was pleading with them, saying, ‘Please don’t do that,’ ″ he said in an interview from the hospital.
However, Assistant Police Chief Donald Aubrecht said Tucci was one of several protesters who crawled under wooden police barracades to block doors to the clinic.
″He grabbed a police officer by the leg and he wouldn’t let go,″ Aubrecht said. ″And she (the police officer) yelled, ’Let go of my leg 3/8 Let go of my leg 3/8 ″
″We are saying he (Tucci) was not kicked,″ Aubrecht said, adding that Tucci will be charged with two separate assault charges.