WATCH: Police arrest abortion activists in violent clash on eve of Canadian March for Life
OTTAWA, May 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Dozens of pro-abortion activists disrupted an annual pro-life candlelight vigil Wednesday night on the eve of Canada’s March for Life, and police arrested at least three after a violent confrontation.
Campaign Life Coalition organizes the peaceful vigil at the Canadian Human Rights Monument in honor of the millions of unborn children killed through abortion since it was legalized in 1969. Following a pro-life Mass at a downtown Ottawa parish, vigil keepers walk in procession to the monument, where they sing praise songs and hear testimonies.
But when the pro-life vigil keepers arrived this year, they found abortion activists occupying the steps of the monument and holding up signs to block the platform.
The police were already on hand, but refused to intervene, on the grounds that the pro-abortion side was exercising their right to free speech. When an organizer noted that Campaign Life Coalition had obtained a permit for the use of the space, an officer said they were checking with the city. Nevertheless, the pro-abortion contingent remained in place through the entire event.
Besides blocking the stage, the protesters used various maneuvers to disrupt the vigil, including shouting, chanting, and even unplugging the microphones.
The arrests took place after several protestors attempted to stop a police officer from removing a member of their group. The reason the officer intervened is unclear.
As he took her away, another protestor attempted to pull her away, and then eventually another stepped in. As the scuffle ensued, a number of people fell from the stage and onto nearby grass and barricades.
It took several minutes for police to subdue them, and at one point, three other protestors converged in an attempt to pull one of the pro-abortion girls away from police. The police responded by pepper spraying them. With some difficulty, they eventually arrested at least three of them.
Campaign Life Coalition Youth Coordinator Christina Alaimo told LifeSiteNews that despite the protest, the vigil was “wonderful” and they have every intention of proceeding as normal in future years.
“We had a wonderful vigil and we had some individuals who came who do not agree with us and our message of life and hope and faith and they attempted in various ways to shut our message down by yelling and screaming and blocking the stage,” she said.
“It will only affect our event insomuch as we are more prepared and we have better strategies so that it’s less disruptive. But we’ll continue as normal and it’s business as usual, such as it is, sharing the truth.”
Father Jim Zettel, who spoke at the vigil despite the jeers of protestors, told LifeSiteNews that he felt “a lot of hope” while on stage.
“I thought, ‘they’re here and they’re listening. They’re listening to a message that they may not have heard,’” said Zettel. “Here they’re getting a real authentic message from men and women that really love life.”
Sister Teresa Catherine, a Catholic religious sister who is part of the Queenship of Mary Community, told LifeSiteNews that she wanted those who were disturbing and protesting the vigil to know “that they are loved, even right where they’re at.”
“God is merciful,” said Zettel. “No matter how broken, how fearful, how scared, how sinful you might be, there is always mercy.”
Sister Teresa Catherine echoed Zettel’s message of mercy.
“They’re standing there because of wounds, because of…choices and decisions that have brought them to that point,” she said. Sister Teresa Catherine said that she is praying “that God would be able to touch” the pro-abortion protestors through conversations with pro-life activists.
“I’m praying for conversion of hearts,” she said.