A group of protestors were arrested on a public sidewalk outside of University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) Zuckerberg Hospital in San Fransisco last month, and are now being charged with trespassing despite not stepping foot on hospital grounds until after their arrest.
In video footage shared by the organization Pro-Life San Francisco, protestors are seen being arrested by local authorities and then walked into the hospital, where they began chants intended to draw attention to the hospital’s use of aborted fetuses for publicly funded experimental studies.
Martin Cannon, senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, is representing one of the protestors, Terrisa Bukovinac, executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco. Cannon said he believes it was local sheriffs, not hospital staff or security, who walked Bukovinac and others into the hospital after arresting them for stepping past an arbitrary barricade outside.
“They arrested her on a sidewalk, basically just for showing up. She did not have a megaphone, she wasn’t calling out at all. She didn’t even have a sign. They arrested her for being within an area,” that the hospital arbitrarily declared was too close to the entrance, Cannon said.
As seen in the video, it wasn’t until after authorities arrested Bukovianc that she began leading chants.
“The problem here is that they got arrested, when they made no noise. They got arrested for showing up because the cops are thinking they might make some noise,” Cannon said. “They got arrested anticipatorly.”
Cannon said the trespassing charges brought against his client seem like a stretch, but that “stretches” seem to be a common theme among law enforcement lately, pointing out a trend of failure of equal protection across the country.
“We see governors and mayors and election commissioners, people are just making up new rules. It’s just sort of sweeping the country, and our pro-life people are seeing a lot of it,” Cannon said. “The same people that will let the protesters bash windows and burn buildings and steal everybody’s inventory and call it ‘lawful protest –we can’t do anything,’ will respond where there’s half a dozen pro-lifers on the sidewalk and start building constraints against them”
Other protestors arrested belong to the organization Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, who are being represented by the Life Legal Defense Foundation.
“Our position is that this is an unlawful arrest, as the pro-lifers were engaged in constitutionally protected speech on a public sidewalk,” Alexandra Snyder, executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, told The Federalist last week. “This appears to be an attempt to suppress the dissemination of information in order to protect UCSF.”
The pro-lifers were protesting USCF’s practice of conducting studies with tissue of healthy, aborted babies at various gestational phases, including some studies in which fetal intestines and reproductive tracts were transplanted into rodents.