There must be millions of people in the world who are trying to avoid arrest. But I’m not one of them. In consultation with some other pro-life friends I decided that the time had come to do something symbolic and dramatic in defence of the Unborn.
I had written, preached, lectured and shown slides on abortion and the rights of the unborn. To what effect I’m not sure, but I felt that I had not done nearly enough. Where the murder of unborn babies is concerned we can’t be content with giving our talents, we’ve got to give ourselves!
Father Alphonse de Valk had got himself arrested a few days before and had spent a night in jail. He had locked the back gate to the clinic and was charged with “public mischief.” He felt exactly the same as I do – we’ve got to put our bodies on the line. This seemed to me to be the way to get arrested. There are others like “preventing passage” and “trespassing.” But they can invite physical violence and that we want to avoid. So, locking the gate was the decision by a vote of one to zero, with no abstentions. I acquired a padlock and had a chat with a lawyer. A great pro-life friend, Stephen Jalsevac, offered to be my driver in case I was put in jail there and then and would have to leave my car parked overtime – and I wouldn’t break the law for anything! Steve collected me at home at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, October 29, and we set forth.
We decided that the best strategy was to approach the back ate of the Harbord Street abortuary from the west side so that the car would be between the gate and the police car which is parked on the other side of the lane twenty-four hours a day. We saw the car with the officer in it and Steve said, “Now.” I hopped out as fast as my 72-year-old legs could move. But the officer was faster – he must have moved with the swiftness of a cheetah. There he was in front of me with his back to the gate. He has the physique of a wrestler and I haven’t. So I said, “Good morning officer.” He said, “What are you going to do with that thing?” I said, “I intended to lock the gate.” He said, “Not while I’m here.” I said, “I guess not.” We chatted for a few moments and I moved back.
I knew that there would be a change of guard in fifteen minutes so we parked he car at some distance and sat and waited. When we knew the guard had changed we went into action again. This time we decided to walk. As we approached the gate the police car was right beside it with the officer inside. He was writing so he didn’t spot us until we were very close. I moved quickly between the car and the gate. The officer had to come around the car and by the time he did, I had the chain around the gate but had not yet snapped the lock. He said, “If you lock that I shall have to arrest you, Father.” I said, “Good, that’s the whole idea.” He tried to prevent me but I just snapped it and that was that. The officer invited me to “Step into the back of the police car,” and I accepted the invitation. He informed me that I was under arrest for “public mischief.”
The officer, whose name is Joe, was very business like, efficient and extremely courteous – a credit to the police force. He explained my rights and asked me if I would promise not to commit any more mischief. I replied, “Sorry, officer, I cannot promise that.” He then asked me if I would promise not to cause any more mischief “today.” I agreed to that – it would have meant buying another lock and chain. He said that in that case he could allow me to go free but I would have to appear in court on November 12 to answer the charge of “public mischief.” I signed the necessary document and Steve and I went for a coffee.
That afternoon I had a few media calls. One was from the Toronto Sun. The reporter asked me how I intended to respond to the charge. I had not thought it out but here is my plan of campaign off the top of my head.
I shall plead guilty to the charge and I shall not sign an assurance that I shall not repeat the offence – I intend to! I shall not pay a fine – and I don’t want any kind friends to do so for me. No matter what the sentence is, I shall not appeal it.
If I were asked what the punishment should be, I would say, “public hanging outside the clinic.” That may sound facetious and ridiculous. But, let’s be logical. If 2,000 innocent babies can be executed inside for the crime of being “unwanted,” why not hang a Catholic priest outside for the crime of “public mischief.”
If that is the sentence, you are invited to the entertainment. But don’t forget to bring along your personal padlock. That gate still needs to be locked!