In even more ironic proof that anti-choice extremists care less about children than they do about controlling women’s bodies, a charter elementary school has had to sue Planned Parenthood protesters for harassing and targeting their students — some of whom are as young as 3-years-old.
On Wednesday, Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit against demonstrators who have been protesting the construction of a new Planned Parenthood clinic nearby.
One of the five protesters named in the complaint is Robert Weiler Jr., a Maryland man who has previously served time in prison for plotting to bomb an abortion clinic.
The complaint filed by the public school in federal court states that the demonstrators have been engaging in “extreme and outrageous conduct” as they allegedly target children as young as three with gruesome images of aborted fetuses, The Washington Post reported. The extremists have also been photographed holding signs with messages such as “murder facility,” and “THEY KILL BABIES NEXT DOOR! Tell your parents to stop them,” directly in front of the school.
DC Planned Parenthood pic.twitter.com/4vnaLwFwVU
— LarryVote (@larryvote) October 10, 2015
The school is seeking a court order to bar protesters from approaching or talking to schoolchildren, as they have been reportedly going right up to the children and telling them lies such as “they kill kids next door.”
“Our top priority is to provide a high-quality, joyful educational environment for our children, and we cannot do this if they do not feel safe,” Jessica Wodatch, the school’s executive director, wrote in a letter to parents about the lawsuit.
The school also noted, however, that their actions are not meant to be taken as the school taking a stance on the abortion issue — and that they simply want to keep the children safe from the heated issue so that they may safely attend school and learn.
“We are a diverse community with different viewpoints on the issue,” she wrote. “Our students are caught up in a controversy that is not about them — our goal is to allow them safe passage to school.”
Though the new clinic is not expected to open until next spring, small groups of protesters have been gathering since before the first day of school, and have been extremely aggressive with the very young children. The harassment has become so bad, that many teachers have been opting to keep students indoors instead of letting them play outside for recess.
— News 24/7 (@TopNews24_7) December 9, 2015
On January 21, the day before the “March for Life,” anti-choice rally in DC, another large protest has been planned outside of the school. It has become so bad and potentially traumatic for the students that the school is considering closing for the day and forcing the children to stay home.
The complaint also states that protesters have followed families to the front door or behind the school when they try to find other entrances to shield their children from the vulgar demonstrations.
The school has even received emails from the protesters, which they also provided to the court.
“I’m sure you don’t want to see me, my anti-abortion friends and our graphic images any more than we want to be in your neighborhood,” an email asking the school how they plan to stop the clinic from opening said.
While some may say that harassing young children with violent imagery for political aims could be considered terrorism — those listed in the lawsuit contend that they are simply exercising their right to free speech — you know, while violating the children’s rights to go to school and get an education without having to fear the extremists on their sidewalk.
“It is tragic to see peaceful, prayerful public witness silenced in the nation’s capital,” Lauren Handy, an anti-abortion activist from Virginia who was named in the complaint told the Washington Post.
Another demonstrator who was named, Jonathan Darnel of Northern Virginia, said that the lawsuit is “typical of our culture,” and that “we blame the messenger instead of the message. They should be filing a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood for moving in there and building this place next to their school.”
The school argues that they are intentionally inflicting emotional distress on students and has requested that they stay away from the building’s entrance during arrivals and dismissals, as well as stop using “kill” and “murder” in a “manner reasonably likely to be viewed by children under 12 years of age.”
“Students should be able to get to school without being harassed, and without any threat to their safety and security,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.
The DC Attorney General has also weighed in, releasing a statement that reads:
“Protecting children is one of our highest priorities at the Office of the Attorney General, and we are very concerned about the allegations set forth in the complaint. We are committed to ensuring that students, teachers and parents are not harassed or otherwise intimidated by aggressive and unnecessarily inflammatory protests that go beyond the protections afforded by the First Amendment.”
Those who claim to want to protect the unborn have shown us once again that they have no problem harming the children who are already here. From fighting against food stamps that would feed them, to fighting against welfare to help house them, and now… terrorizing them at school — it has been made so very clear yet again that the religious-right’s attack on women’s health clinics is not about children or abortion, and it never has been.
Featured image via Twitter