The morning of Saturday, August 11 began like many for Illinois pro-life activist John Ryan.
A regular volunteer with the group Defenders of the Unborn, Ryan was standing peacefully outside of Granite City’s Hope Clinic for Women. “I was offering alternatives to folks that came there to see if I could talk them out of abortions,” he said.
But that’s when things got strange.
John Ryan remembers, “I saw a car circle a couple of times and I saw this young man look at me when he went by each time.”
That man was later identified by police as 27-year-old Kevin Brooks of Springfield, Missouri.
When Ryan, reportedly holding nothing but baby onesies and “Defenders of the Unborn” cards in his hands, approached the car in an attempt to talk to Brooks outside of the abortion clinic, Brooks allegedly pointed a loaded gun at him.
“He never said a word,” said Ryan. “He had a smirk on his face, he just lifted, I saw the barrel of the gun out the window. He pointed it right at me and just looked at me.”
When Granite City Police arrived, they found a rifle in Kevin Brooks’ car, and arrested and charged him with a felony for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
But in spite of the harrowing experience, John Ryan was not deterred in his defense of the unborn.
After backing away and calling 911, the pro-life activist remained at the clinic for the rest of his shift.
“Not turned away at all, it certainly is unnerving,” Ryan told reporters. “I’ve been threatened before (this is the) first time I had a loaded gun pointed at me. I know what I do, I know the kids I’ve been able to save and that’s the least I can do is show up.”
According to police, no one was injured and no shots were fired.
“The thing we want to stress is that this was an isolated incident and nobody got hurt,” Detective Lt. Mike Nordstrom told reporters.
But John Ryan admits to being frightened.
“This wasn’t just a guy who had a rifle, he pointed it at me,” Ryan said.
Kevin Brooks later claimed that his rifle was not actually loaded. In an interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch, he stated that John Ryan “followed” him and his friend, as they waited for the abortion clinic to open. Brooks says his ammunition was in the trunk.
Interestingly, this was not the first time John Ryan had an angry pro-abortion activist confront him outside of an abortion clinic.
In 2016, a St. Louis Planned Parenthood employee accused Ryan of telling her there was a bomb in the building.
But a jury disagreed. At the conclusion of last year’s trial, the St. Louis jury found Ryan not guilty of the misdemeanor charge against him.
Violence and threats against peaceful pro-life activists and lawmakers continue to be a serious problem on a national level.
Just last month, a registered Democrat in East Orange, New Jersey was charged with threatening to kill pro-life U.S. Representative Chris Smith. According to Rep. Smith, the threat was directly related to his conservative views on abortion.
And in 2012, a man identifying as a “pro-choice terrorist” pled guilty to “one count of transmitting a threat to injure another person by threatening to kill two pro-life advocates.” Those advocates were Father Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, and Robert George, PhD, of Princeton University. Both men are well-known for their pro-life activism.
Based on a number of additional documented instances of pro-abortion threats of violence, it appears that America is now an unsafe place for those concerned with the protection of unborn life.