WASHINGTON, DC, October 27, 2011 ( – An African-American pastor who spent 18 days in jail for peacefully picketing in front of a California abortion clinic has been awarded the Life Issues Institute’s 2011 Hero at Heart award.


Rev. Walter Hoye, accompanied by his wife, Lori, accepted the award before a gathering of pro-life leaders in Washington, DC.

“Walter is a still, small voice in the verbal turmoil of the abortion debate.  Yet his humble and loving actions are turning the hearts and minds of women against abortion.  Life Issues Institute is honored to give him this award,” Life Issues Institute Executive Director Bradley Mattes commented, after presenting Hoye with the award.

Past recipients of the Hero at Heart award include Congressman Henry Hyde, Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, former Kansas state Attorney General Phill Kline, Abby Johnson and Olympian medal winner Tasha Danvers-Smith.

Hoye was arrested in 2009 for violating a “bubble zone” ordinance in Oakland, California that prohibited sidewalk counseling within 100 feet of an abortion clinic.

When the judge offered to waive any penalty in exchange for a promise to stay away from the clinic, Hoye refused. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $1130. He was released after 18 days, and his conviction was later overturned.

In a separate decision issued earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Oakland was violating the constitutional rights of pro-life advocates by enforcing “a constitutionally invalid, content-based regulation of speech.”

According to Katie Short, legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF), which represented Hoye, his battle against the Oakland City Council could have far-reaching implications for pro-life demonstrators across the country.

“In evaluating a constitutional challenge to a bubble law like this, courts will not turn a blind eye to the challenges facing pro-lifers in communicating their message, including when those challenges come from the bad behavior of clinic escorts,” she said in a statement released by LLDF when the Ninth Circuit handed down their decision in July.