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Rockford Pro-Lifers Sue City for “Arbitrary, Invidious Censorship” of Pro-life Message

LifeSiteNews.com

By John Jalsevac

ROCKFORD, Illinois, April 14, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A goateed man with sunglasses and a pony-tail with a pit-bull on a leash sticks his face right up to the lens of the video-camera. "You do realize that you’re a f***in’ butt baby," he shouts into the camera. "You’re a half-breed ni**er!" And then, just to make sure that the point is perfectly clear, he repeats, "You’re a half-breed ni**er."

  This isn’t the first time that pro-life activists have seen a video of this sort. Footage released earlier this year showed pro-life activists in Vienna, Austria being tormented by hired goons outside the clinic of Dr. Christian Fiala. The video records the clinic escorts swaying side to side, contorting their faces into snarls, howling like wolves, grunting heavily, uttering screams and wailing moans, chanting fiercely, breaking into hyena-like laughs and uttering satanic phrases. A previous video showed the pro-life advocates being sexually molested by the hired clinic escorts.  

This also isn’t the first time that the man behind the camera in this most recent video has been labeled a "half-breed ni**er" by his harasser. Besides the fact that similar incidents have been ongoing outside this abortion clinic in Rockford Illinois for the last four or five months, seven minutes of the video of the current incident have already elapsed. In that short period of time, the man with the goatee, identified several times as "Keith", a resident of the neighborhood where the abortion clinic is, has called the cameraman a "ni**er" 19 times, has shouted the word "f**k" at him 36 times, called him a "degenerate" 16 times, and has otherwise threatened and harassed the cameraman and his companion, Kevin Rilott.

Keith has also twice shouted at the top of his lungs across a parking lot to several women going into the nearby abortion clinic, a converted schoolhouse, telling them that "God will reward" them for aborting their unborn child. He has also pointed towards a chimney which he says is attached to the incinerator where they burn the bodies of aborted babies, and has told the cameraman that he finds the "smell of baby-napalm" sexually arousing. He has also suggested that his pit-bull might attack the cameraman if the camerman gets too close. 

Suddenly a loud-speaker crackles to life in the background. "Hey Keith," says a voice which resonates throughout the quiet neighborhood, "this a**hole just called the cops. I just heard it coming over the scanner. They called the cops because Keith is down here, yelling and screaming at people, and he has a pit bull with him and he’s threatening people." The booming voice, however, adds consolingly, "You’re not acting any crazier than those other a**holes (the pro-life activists)."

"I know, I know, Wayne. I know, buddy. I’ll talk to you later, Wayne," Keith shouts back at the disembodied voice, before walking off with his pit-bull in tow, still cursing the cameraman and his companion.

The "Wayne" who Keith has just addressed is Wayne Webster, the owner of the schoolhouse abortion clinic in front of which the video takes place. Wayne has been watching the incident using his security system, which includes not only a number of video cameras, but also the loudspeaker system and microphones with which he carries on a two-way conversation with Keith from inside the building. He has also been listening to the police scanner, and warns Keith as soon as he knows the police are on their way.

To those who know the background to the incident, there is a strange and sad irony in the current situation. In the past Rockford pro-life activists doing sidewalk counseling outside this clinic have been repeatedly fined by the police for breaking the city’s noise ordinances…for shouting across the parking lot in order to ask women going into the abortion clinic if they can help them. Wayne Webster, however, is not only using a loudspeaker system to converse with Keith, but repeatedly blankets the neighborhood with his vulgarities. "He’s fu**in’ totally nuts," he says in a booming voice to Keith about Kevin Rilott, the man with the pro-life placard seen in the background of the video.

An hour after the call to the police was placed, they arrive; but, as these pro-life activists say they have learned to expect, the police prove to be singularly unhelpful. "If you don’t feel safe here, you need to leave," one officer tells the pro-life pair. "You know I’m not going to stay here and argue with you all day long. I have better things to be doing, more important things."

In fact, Rockford pro-lifers have found the police, and the city as a whole, so determinedly unhelpful that they have filed a lawsuit alleging violations of First Amendment rights and conspiracy to violate First Amendment rights. An amended form of the lawsuit was filed by the Thomas More Society on April 3. The suit accuses the city of "arbitrary, capricious and invidious censorship of the plaintiffs’ pro-life message."

Attorneys with the Thomas More Society filed a first version of the now-amended civil rights lawsuit when the city removed a pro-life sign that local residents had placed on a city bus bench. The sign displayed the message: "Abortion Kills Babies." The lawsuit charges the city with violating the free speech and due process rights of its citizens. Local residents raised funds for the bench display in an attempt to educate their neighbors and dissuade women from seeking abortions.

The sign was placed on the bench on November 3, 2005 and was there until March of 2006, when it was vandalized on a regular basis, covered with spray-painted obscenities and mutilated to remove the "Abortion Kills Babies" words. A local Rockford bus driver was photographed getting out of her bus and defacing the sign while in uniform.

Not only did the City ultimately decide not to allow the sign, claiming that it was "too political," a city employee was seen cutting a pro-life picture off of the bench with a knife.

The amended form of the complaint, filed on April 3, adds defendants Wayne Webster (the abortion clinic owner) and Keith Sterkeson (the harasser in the video). The amended complaint also seeks a declaration that Rockford ‘s nuisance noise ordinance is unconstitutional. That ordinance makes it a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment for up to six months to "annoy" someone with an "unusual" or "unnecessary" noise. The ordinance has been used multiple times to silence pro-life activists, but when those same activists have pointed out to the police that Keith and Wayne have been shouting obscenities across the neighborhood, the police have refused to take any action.

Kevin Rilott, the pro-life activist seen in the recent video, was also involved in a previous incident reported on by LifeSiteNews.com, in which he was physically assaulted by a man in front of the abortion mill. Despite a phone call made to the police during the assault, police arrived on the scene approximately 20 minutes later, without lights or sirens.

To see the video (WARNING: Extremely vulgar and disturbing language):
http://prolifecorner.com/files/video/Warningkeith.swf?PHPSESSID=e04a6f63e08abadb9d120d270007b7d3

To read a transcript of the video, including the encounter with the police:
http://prolifecorner.com/node/2691

To read the complaint filed by the Thomas More Society, see:
http://www.thomasmoresociety.org/Rockford_busstop.htm#Videoslur

Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Pro-Lifer Violently Assaulted Outside Abortion Clinic, Police Take Time After Repeat 911 Calls
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/aug/07082310.html

CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Abortion Clinic Escorts Sexually Abuse Praying Pro-Life Activists
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/nov/07113002.html

  Abortionist Inflicts Demonic Psycho-terror on Pro-life Protestors in Vienna
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/jan/08012515.html

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