On the morning of June 9, Linda Gibbons, Emidio Galea, both of Toronto, and Bernard Crawley of Kitchener were arrested for violating Ontario’s injunction against peaceful pro-life witnessing near abortuaries.They were outside the Scott abortuary on Gerrard St. E. at 10 a.m., carrying placards with pro-life messages, counselling women entering the abortuary, and praying, as police cruisers began circling around the block. Pro-life evangelist Rev. Ken Campbell parked his recreational vehicle, covered in pro-life signs and bumper stickers, directly in front of the abortuary. Across the street, outside the bubble zone, more than a dozen pro-life demonstrators carried placards to bear witness to the evil done inside the clinic and to offer support for Gibbons and the others.
Shortly thereafter, the sheriff came to read the injunction. Rev. Campbell removed his vehicle and returned to join the demonstration of support across the street. But Gibbons and Galea refused to leave and the sheriff asked the attending police officers, by then numbering eight, to arrest the two.
A few minutes later, and somewhat unexpectedly, Crowley was being handcuffed. He had been walking in front of the abortuary praying. As he was led away by the police officers, Crawley told The Interim that, “I was just praying, for the babies that are killed in there and for the souls of the abortionists.”
Crawley, a former colonial police officer in Palestine (before 1948), said “I have arrested many people before, but have never been arrested myself. I had the idea that the government doesn’t believe that anybody has any rights, but I didn’t expect to get arrested today. I don’t have the right to pray the Rosary?” he asked as he shrugged his shoulders.
The police refused to answer The Interim’s questions. Outside the abortuary they were asked if they felt any shame arresting a man for praying or whether they felt their freedoms are at all threatened when Crawley’s right to pray was violated. Officers at 51 Division, the precinct station, refused to answer questions, saying that it would violate the rights of the three people charged.
Inspector Randal Monroe of Toronto Police Services, 51 Division, said the police are called in to make the arrest at the request of the sheriff, and “to prevent a breach of the peace.” When asked if there were more officers there than were really necessary, he indicated that some would be told to leave shortly. Indeed, about half the police contingent left as Gibbons and Galea were driven away.
Before she was arrested, Gibbons told The Interim she came that day to save babies and that if she were arrested because she violated the injunction she would not accept the usual bail conditions that require her to recognize the injunction.
“By not coming here today, by not counselling outside these doors, I would be recognizing the legitimacy of the injunction,” she said. “I’m not going to do that.”
Gibbons has been arrested more than a dozen times and has spent a total of 60 months in jail for her sidewalk counselling. She was acquitted and released on March 1 after being imprisoned for six months for sidewalk counselling last September 9 at the same location.
She said she could not simply walk on the other side of the street holding a sign. “It would compromise our principle and accept the loss of life.
“I couldn’t have a discussion with the young girls going into the clinic from across the street. You can’t talk about this personal issue with them. You couldn’t talk about your marriage problems with your wife from across the street, would you?”
That said, she didn’t criticize those who do obey the injunction and demonstrate across the street. “Everyone is called to do what they must according to their conscience,” she said.
Barbara Brown, a long time pro-life activist who has been picketing across from the Scott abortuary for 15 years, said she came out to support Gibbons and to provide a “visible witness to the scary evil” that goes on inside.
“Linda has a courage and conviction that runs deeply,” Brown said, “and all of us are here to show our support for her today.”
Gerhard Wilch, a downtown Toronto missionary, said he doesn’t come out to demonstrate as often as he would like. However, he made time to go down to Scott’s to show his support for Gibbons’ courageous pro-life witness. “Everybody supports and admires her,” he said.
While Gibbons did expect to be arrested, the arrests of Galea and Crawley were a surprise. Galea was arrested after quietly walking outside the clinic with a pro-life sign. He remains in jail, refusing to accept bail conditions that would require him to stay away from the abortuary.
On June 11, Gibbons and Galea were scheduled to appear at the College St. provincial court in Toronto. Crawley was scheduled to appear later in the month. He was released from jail after signing an agreement to stay away from the abortuary.Three pro-lifers arrested in Toronto bubble-zone