Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Counterproductive counterprotesting

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | May 15th, 2019


Catholic protest against the Red River Women's Clinic 2012 - photograph by C.S. Hagen

By Sabrina Hornung and Thomas Bixby

Last week a photo surfaced on social media of a Fargo man standing among protesters in front of the Red River Women’s Clinic (RRWC) smiling and holding a cardboard sign that read, “JESUS LOVES SLUTS” and wearing a matching shirt. This is neither the first nor the last instance of counterprotestors joining the protestors outside of the clinic. We couldn’t help but wonder, do they help or do they hurt their cause?

We had a chance to chat with Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s clinic and Lead Escort Caitlin Annick Ross on what you can do to effectively help support the RRWC.

HPR: What do you think about this guy? What can people do to effectively help the clinic?

TK: I know that my lead escort Caitlin reached out to him and apparently met him for coffee, but I haven’t gotten a report back from her.You know, kinda like “Dude, you’re doing it wrong.” Being an escort is a way to support the clinic. Reaching out to us, people can email us through the website and ask for information. We’ve seen a real uptick in folks reaching out to us and asking how they can get involved. The weather has something to do with it (laughter). And we’ve had more protester activity. You can be an escort or provide escorts with snacks or lemonade, coffee if it gets colder, although that’s more in the winter. If you can’t escort yourself, walking by give them a high five, driving by say thank you instead of fuck you, just hey, thanks, escort! Those are great ways to support our patients, our staff, and our escorts.

Thomas Bixby, HPR: Hi, Caitlin! You, RRWC lead escort, were to meet the aforementioned counterprotester for coffee, reason with him. Could you tell me how that turned out?

Caitlin Annick Ross: I haven’t yet had the chance to meet with him as he was out of town last weekend. I will keep you posted if I get to meet him this week.

HPR: Any comments on his behavior / appearance? I suppose he isn’t aggressive or you wouldn’t be meeting him.

CAR: He didn’t seem aggressive or threatening. I didn’t even notice his sign because by the time he showed up all of our patients for the day had arrived, so when he held out his sign, I only saw his back and assumed it was the same old protester shtick. I am hoping to discuss with him why counterprotesters are not helpful and how damaging his “slut” language is.

Sabrina Hornung, HPR: How do you guys feel about counter protesters?

TK: We do not welcome counterprotesters when our patients are coming, on Wednesdays, because all patients see are people with signs. Put yourself in that patient’s place. She’s not from Fargo, she’s driving by, she doesn’t know what’s going on. As well as you think you make your counterprotest sign, she doesn’t actually read the signs. What we tell patients is that the people in the blue vests are there to support them. So you’re adding stress to the patients and amping up the protesters. They, the protesters, think they’re getting a reaction. I just posted an article on the clinic’s Facebook about counterprotests, because it has been coming up a little bit around the country...kind of in response to a state legislator in Pennsylvania, who went out and filmed himself confronting a protester, and what it did is it turned into even more protests. If people what to do something on a non-Wednesday, we welcome that, that’s everybody’s free speech right, we solemnly believe in free speech. But when you are adding to the chaos out in front of the clinic, all you’re doing is adding to the patients’ stress level.

Red River Women's Clinic 2012 - photograph by C.S. Hagen

HPR: I saw that sign. It really got me going.

TK: It started with that judo Jesus thing a couple of years ago. That was a nightmare. And thankfully, we were able to prevent him from getting into a physical altercation. And that’s what happens. People respond to that. I was able to speak to that young man and he was a reasonable person who understood that his presence on the sidewalk, on a Wednesday, when we’re seeing our abortion patients, only adds to their fear and stress. I mean, people call us and say, “Is somebody going to hurt me when I’m out there? Do they have guns? Do they have knives? Are they going to throw tomatoes at me? Are they going to throw water balloons at me?” People coming here are already fearful. We just don’t need to add to the circus atmosphere, and that’s what counterprotesters do.

It is for their benefit. He’s not helping our patients. He’s not adding to our dialogue. And the folks who come out and protest each week? They’re true believers. They’re not going to be swayed by one person showing up and doing some snarky sign. He did respond to one of the comments. I read most of them. I think it was Warren Christensen who said something like hey guy, this is not the way to do it. And [the counterprotester] said, I work eight to five so I can’t escort. I think he was on his lunch break and he just decided to show up. So why don’t you come and escort on your lunch break instead of doing something that only serves you? It does not serve our patients.

HPR: What do you think about the terminology on the sign?

TK: I know he was trying to be snarky; I don’t get it. But what do the patients see? Using the word slut is more shaming and stigmatizing for our patients. Our patients are coming to our clinic seeking medical care, not to be shamed, bullied, further added to the already rampant stigma that exists in abortion care, and honestly, counterprotesters don’t help anybody. I just want to keep the focus on the women. You are not helping our patients or their families when you are out there counterprotesting. So Red River Women’s Clinic does not welcome counterprotesters.

Recently in:

by Meg Luther Lindholmmlutherlindholm@gmail.comWho was it that said that the health of a city can be measured by the health and well-being of its children? If no one else has made that claim – then I’m making it now. And to…

Valentine’s Day can inspire annoying questions if you’re single and the spending of a whole lot of time or money if you’re not. So shake up the old routine with fun, unusual and affordable (or even free) activities. Feel free…

Sunday, February 23, 8pmThe Aquarium, 226 N Broadway, FargoAnchorage based Indie heroes Termination Dust will grace the stage of the Aquarium with Minneapolis based Double Grave with local support from Disappear Forever and Shrug.

Editorial

Art for our sake

by Sabrina Hornung

Last week North Dakota made national news again and it wasn’t anything for us to be proud of… again. Our friend, collaborator and fellow artist Shane Balkowitsch proposed a 7’ photo mural of Swedish climate change activist…

Two Devastating Swarms ‘Tis the season when billions of locusts swarm across Northern Africa and Southern Asia creating famines. A single swarm with as many as 70 billion who transform themselves from avoiding other locusts to a…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Back in January, KRFF Radio Free Fargo was going to have a benefit concert featuring the metal band Witchden from Minneapolis. Fargo got hit with a massive blizzard that just so happened the weekend of the concert. However, as the…

Stella Meghie writes and directs “The Photograph,” a romantic drama that weaves together the cross-generational journeys of a mother and daughter finding themselves with and without the love that might otherwise nurture and…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

The Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre (FMCT) is continuing to move forward as they wait to see what the future holds for the building located at 333 4th Street S. in Fargo. FMCT made two moves over the past several weeks, including…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

by Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comA Paloma Cocktail recipe is refreshing, easy, and a great way to celebrate one of the best citrus fruits available. Move over margaritas, because this simple tequila recipe can be put together in…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

“Donald Trump sits on a wall; But Donald Trump fears a great fall.All would-be king’s horsemen, and would-be king’s men; Still keep him propped up there, again and again.” - Chicago Dog, 2/2/20 Step #5. Remember…