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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Pro-lifer who spent three nightmarish days in jail sues abortion clinic, police

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

WESTLAND, Michigan, November 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-lifer praying near an abortuary is suing police and an abortion center after she was arrested and kept in jail for three days.

The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) and the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit to defend Kimberley Thames' Constitutional rights. In a press release, the AFLC stated, "The pain, suffering, and humiliation Ms. Thames endured at the hands of these city officials is shocking to the conscience."

According to the complaint, Thames was unlawfully arrested, falsely imprisoned for nearly three days, subjected to gross humiliation and indignity, had her property subjected to unlawful search and seizure without probable cause, lied to and lied about by authorities, subjected to sleep depravation, and denied her Constitutional phone call.

The lawsuit names as Defendants the City of Westland; four police officers; the abortuary, Northland Family Planning Clinic; a security guard ("John Doe"), a Northland employee, and the center's owner.

The suit seeks relief for the violation of Thames’ First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, her Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure, her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law, for Northland's conspiracy to violate Constitutional rights — including police officers' "reckless or callous indifference" to her federally protected rights, for her false arrest and false imprisonment, for defamation of her character, and demands a jury trial.

On Saturday, August 27, Thames went to pray for women considering abortion and for abortionists at the Northland Family Planning Clinic in Westland.

Upon arrival, Thames talked with the clinic security guard, telling him that she was praying for him, too. She told him that she would also pray that he would find another job, one that would protect life.

The guard became angry, defended his job at the abortion mill, and said he was there to protect everybody. Thames responded by saying she was happy to hear that he was there to protect her, too.

Shortly after Thames left to use a nearby store's restroom, she noticed police arrived at the clinic and the security guard was now talking to police.  

One of the officers came up to Thames and asked if she had threatened to bomb the Northland clinic. She said she had not done so, but police handcuffed Thames and arrested her "for making terrorist threats."

According to the AFLC lawsuit, Northland employee Mary E. Guilbernat colluded with both the security guard and abortuary owner Renee Chelian to call emergency and falsely report a bomb threat.

Guilbernat took a picture of Kim's license plate while she was in a nearby store's bathroom and told officers that Kim had made threats in the past. At Guilbernat’s urging, the security guard told police that Thames said, “I prophesy bombs are going to fall! I prophesy bombs are going to fall!” (The lawsuit pointed out that predicting future judgment is protected speech under the First Amendment and not criminal activity.)

When a Catholic nun on the scene tried to inform Westland police officers Jeff Jedrusik, Jason Soulliere, John Gatti, Adam Tardif, and Norman Brooks that Thames made no such threat, officers told the nun, "You have no idea what you are talking about.”

To the contrary, one of the officers openly stated, “Anyone who has anything to do with the whole thing [pro-life prayer] is a fanatic.”

Officer Gatti allegedly intimidated Thames, glared at her, and, according to her lawsuit, sought to frighten her. While in the backseat of the arresting police cruiser, Gatti told Kim, “You’re going to jail for terrorist threats. ... I have gun.”

Thames was jailed for nearly three days. According to the details of the suit, she was repeatedly assured that a city detective was coming to "clear this all up," but she remained in jail on Saturday and Sunday. She also wasn't allowed her one phone call.  

Thames couldn't sleep, and was not allowed to put paper over her eyes to dull the glaring lights. The food made her sick. Her cell had no bathroom but only an open toilet in the corner. Her claustrophobia was exacerbated by her incarceration.

Meanwhile, abortuary owner Renee Chelian posted a statement on Facebook, reading, "This morning started at one of our clinics with a woman threatening to bomb us. The police arrested her while a local Catholic Nun kept screaming at the police we are the ones to be arrested ... This is what we live with daily.”

The Facebook post received more than 100 "likes." Comments to the post included, “These people need to be treated as the terrorists they are.”  “I’m so sad that this kind of domestic terrorism continues.” “Glad they got the culprit, but this is terrible.” “I feel sickened and outraged that you and other reproductive health providers have to deal with threats of terror!”  and “Hope the woman gets jail time."

When the third day of incarceration came, a city detective arrived and quickly determined that there was no case. Thames was released.

"We are going to do everything within our power to remedy this grave injustice and punish everyone who is responsible for it," the AFLC statement read. "Such egregious attacks on the civil rights of pro-life demonstrators have got to stop, and we intend to do it."

The hope of litigators is that the harassment of peaceful pro-lifers will be stopped. "After we are done with this case, government officials and individuals working at abortion facilities will think twice before doing something like this again," the AFLC statement concluded.

In an aside, the lawsuit notes, "Guards often harass and intimidate peaceful, pro-life demonstrators like Plaintiff."

History of ill will toward pro-life demonstrators

Indeed, pro-abortionist judges have a long history of ruling against pro-lifers praying at abortuaries.

In 1986, a Florida judge sentenced a woman to five years in prison for trying (unsuccessfully) to unplug an abortion machine. On the same day, the same judge sentenced two murderers to four years.  

In 1988, a man stood on a sidewalk using a bullhorn to ask police to be gentle with the protesters. He was arrested and at his trial the police lied on the stand. He had video footage proving his innocence and proving the police lied, but the judge refused to let him show the video and he was convicted, fined $1,000 and sentenced to 45 days in jail.

When he could not in good conscience pay the fine, the judge sentenced him to six months for “obstructing a sidewalk.” The same judge during the same period sentenced a man who put a loaded gun to another man’s head to 10 days in jail and a $150 fine.  

As one prosecutor put it, “There’s no place for these anti-abortion people in a pluralistic society.”

In March 1989, more than 200 police in full riot gear were unleashed on peaceful protesters blocking access to an abortuary in Los Angeles. An officer on the scene ordered his men to employ pain compliance on all. One woman’s arm was broken,  another man blacked out from pain, many were picked up literally by their noses by police, and others had knuckles pressed into their eye sockets. The Los Angeles Times did not report the extent of the violence.  

In October 1989, Atlanta police in riot gear picked up protesters by the jaw, by the ears, by the shirt collar, and by painful pressure points. One pastor was dragged and thrown against a fire hydrant, suffering a concussion. An officer in charge lifted one protester to his knees, backed up, and kicked him.  

In Boston, a woman had the joints of her jaw shattered, her shoulder dislocated, and required surgery for a prosthesis implant. In Sacramento, California, police sprayed mace in the faces of rescuers, including a mother and her two-year-old baby.  

In June 1989, Los Angeles police used nunchakus (an illegal martial arts weapon) on protesters, breaking arms, bloodying noses, inflicting torture holds, and causing one pregnant woman to miscarry later.

In June 1989, West Hartford, Connecticut, police took off their badges and threw them into a patrol car trunk, making identification impossible. They then took out riot sticks.  The police broke hand bones, separated shoulders, damaged nerves and scraped hunks of flesh off rescuers as they dragged them over the pavement. They suspended protesters by their wrists and pulled thumbs until they popped tendons.  

Connecticut police seized the still and the video cameras of reporters who filmed the brutality and destroyed the film. The West Hartford city council unanimously commended the police for protecting “service providers of their rights to earn an honest living.” The Hartford Courant did not investigate, stating, “The complaints in most cases probably lack substance.”  

Columnist Don Feder asked, “Does a billy club cracking a skull make a sound, if the media choose to ignore it?”

Pro-life women have been sexually abused by jail officers. On March 11, 1989, in Pittsburgh, after another scene of police brutality, protesters were improperly put in the jail system, not the holding cells at the police department. The women were separated and turned over to the Allegheny County Jail guards.  

After the guards removed their identification, they threatened the pro-life women with rape, sodomy, and being thrown naked into prison cells. Women were carried by their breasts, dragged by their hair, kicked or punched in the head, stomach, breasts, and genitals with officers holding each leg. They were denied medical care.

The Pittsburgh prosecutor’s office brought no charges and the Mayor did not request an  investigation.  The District Attorney’s office said they could do nothing because the women couldn’t identify the guards, and they refused to order lineups so the women could identify the guards.

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