An 85-year-old pro-life advocate was brutally attacked outside of a Planned Parenthood facility in San Francisco on Thursday, during a peaceful prayer vigil. It was the second time he was physically attacked by the same suspect.
The victim had been participating in a peaceful 40 Days for Life campaign Thursday when an assailant stole his banner, and then proceeded to viciously beat him.
When the elderly man attempted to prevent the theft of his banner by putting a stick in the spokes of the assailant’s bicycle, the assailant shoved him to the ground and began violently kicking and threatening him.
“40 Days for Life vigils have a 12 year track record of being peaceful,” stated Shawn Carney, who is president and CEO of 40 Days for Life. “This attack on an 85-year old man – who has been leading the San Francisco campaign for years — by a young aggressor shows that the idea that San Francisco is tolerant is a joke.”
“We believe every person should be treated with kindness, love and respect, even those with whom we may disagree. That said, over the past few months, we have seen an increase in violence from abortion supporters in an effort to instill fear and deter our law-abiding volunteers.”
The San Francisco 40 Days for Life team was victimized by the same man earlier in the week. On Tuesday, just two days prior Thursday’s attack, the same suspect reportedly threw a sign, a table, and pro-life literature into the street. He also knocked two men to the ground during the incident, including the same 85-year-old man he attacked again on Thursday.
Both incidents were reported to law enforcement, and police officers received statements from the victims. It remains unknown, however, whether or not a formal investigation has begun. Pro-life advocates say they have not witnessed an increase in police presence at or near the Planned Parenthood location since the initial attack.
Although Planned Parenthood allegedly has video surveillance of the area that would include both attacks, the organization has so far been unwilling to release the video, or assist in the investigation. What appears to be a cell phone video of Thursday’s incident is, however, available in a LifeNews report.
The attacks in San Francisco are merely the latest in a string of recent violent assaults on pro-lifers at abortion facilities across the nation. It is believed that this new approach by pro-abortion advocates is intended to use violence and threats as a tool.
“When it comes to offering free medical alternatives to women seeking abortion, this incident will not deter the 800,000 volunteers who have participated in 40 Days for Life campaigns in 816 cities in 56 countries,” Carney said. “The pro-life movement uses science, medical alternatives and compassion to change hearts on this crucial issue. Planned Parenthood supporters have resorted to intimidation, insults and violence. They have a long history of not granting dignity to the unborn and that now apparently applies to 85-year-old volunteers as well.”
Life Legal is representing the elderly victim, who reportedly fears for his safety.
“The vicious attack against our elderly client is intolerable,” said Allison Aranda, Life Legal Senior Counsel. “We will pursue all legal avenues to see that justice is served and that the freedom to speak freely on the public sidewalk without threat of physical violence is protected no matter the message. As a former prosecutor, I trust that the San Francisco District Attorney’s office will pursue all legal charges against the perpetrator and bring him to justice.”
Matt Britton serves as General Counsel for 40 Days for Life. Upon learning of the attack, Britton said, “40 Days for Life will always support and defend its vigilant and peaceful prayer volunteers. As a former elected prosecutor, I have reviewed thousands of cases of violence, and anyone who would make such a brutal, vicious assault and robbery of an elderly, peaceful man should end up in the penitentiary where he can do no more harm.”
“I hope that the great City of San Francisco, which has so many protests of all types, recognizes and protects this basic American principle of Freedom of Speech by investigating, apprehending and punishing this shameful assailant.”