If you haven't seen my Twitter/Facebook lately, I'm volunteering as an escort at Mississippi's only abortion clinic. One day, I'll tell y'all about my evolution from being against abortion even in the case of rape to being an abortion clinic escort. But that'll be a long blog. Actually, I'm pretty sure a Clarion-Ledger reporter is typing it up as we speak so maybe it'll be a short blog.
The protesters are... whatever. I'll get there in the morning and there will be 20 of them singing loudly, but within half an hour, they'll have dwindled down to 3 very quiet people and a guy with a microphone and a speaker. He was arrested yesterday for violating the noise ordinance (can't use amplified sound without a permit) and trespassing (he kept blocking the driveway). They call out to the patients, offering help, prayer, begging them not to "kill" their "baby." They're all very nice to me and I'm nice in return. I PROMISE. I don't engage them in debate because I know it's absolutely pointless, although they all try to engage me if I don't have my earbuds in.
Got the first truly crazy protester today though. He showed up at about 9:30 and immediately started yelling at the top of his lungs about how we're all going to Hell. I turned my earbuds WAY up and played Words With Friends on my phone, so I didn't hear much of what he said until he got 2 feet from my face and yelled "How do you feel about burning in Hell! You're a murderer! You protect murderers so you are a murderer!" I got a little nervous then, but the security guard was standing 5 feet away so I didn't look up. He went on for about a minute, so I turned my camera on and pointed it in his face. He backed up.
Epic beard man!
Another escort came up to me and started talking then so I turned my music off and turned to talk to her. She looked behind me and got a big smile on her face so I turned to look and Crazy Pants was pointing his phone at us. He yelled "TELL THE CAMERA YOUR NAME AND WHERE YOU LIVE! I'M GOING TO POST IT ON YOUTUBE SO EVERYONE KNOWS WHO PROTECTS THE MURDERERS!" We escorts are not a serious people (unless we're actually doing our jobs) so they just started hamming for the camera. A few of them said their names. I just stood there and laughed. I was standing a little back from the fence and saw a patient come out of the clinic so I stayed right where I was, instead of going to her and diverting Crazy Pants' attention off of us and onto her.
Unfortunately, he spotted her as she was getting into her car and pointed the camera at her. I was pissed. There was no way he was going to take a video of one of our patients and put it on YouTube. So I put my hand in front of his camera. He started yelling "GET YOUR HAND OUT OF MY FACE" and I said "stop filming the patient and I'll move my hand."
He kept yelling and I started to panic and was doing my best to keep my body between him and the car and keep my hand in front of his camera. I stepped onto the sidewalk and he yelled "CALL THE POLICE, THEY CAN'T BE OUT HERE." (Which is stupid. It's a public sidewalk.) The patient pulled out into the street so I kept blocking until he stopped moving and started yelling again. "GET OUT OF MY WAY RIGHT NOW. GET YOUR HAND OUT OF MY FACE. GET OUT OF MY WAY OR I'LL PUSH YOU."
I didn't even think that I might be in danger. I was just mad. The patient drove off, he put his camera down, and I went back to my post, turned my music back on, and posted on Twitter about it and asked if I could call the cops yet. One of my followers replied "yes, that's assault." But by the time I had processed what had just happened, Crazy Pants left. THEN I thought to myself that I might have actually been in real danger because this man was clearly off his rocker and very, very angry. I mean, look at his face.
A couple of hours later, the precinct commander for the Jackson PD showed up because the neighbors had called in another noise complaint. He walked over to the lead escort to talk to her and when I nosed my way into the conversation she was talking about Crazy Pants and I said "he threatened to push me." The commander said "you can file charges, that's considered simple assault by creating fear."
The officer who came to take my statement was very nice. He was waiting for the radio to quiet down so he could call in and get a case number for me, and he kept looking back and forth between my driver's license and his phone. A minute later, he said "oh, you're flipflops." Uh oh. If you don't follow me on Twitter, I'm a touch... out there... so I was a little concerned that my credibility had gone out the window. He laughed about it and said that his wife follows me.
He said that if I can find out Crazy Pants' identity or if he comes back, I can call the police immediately and he'll be arrested. Then I'll have to go to the police department and file an affidavit and we'll have to go to court! I've never been to court! He'll either spend some time in jail or pay a fine. He won't learn a THING from it and he'll be lauded as a martyr among his people, but at the very least, he'll be inconvenienced for a couple of days.
So that's been my most exciting day at the clinic so far. I wouldn't be there if I weren't willing to take a punch to the face, so this didn't shake me much. It is an overwhelmingly rewarding volunteer position and I look forward to it every day. Crazy people and all.