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:

FARGO - Rain or shine, the Fargo Antiques ROADSHOW is scheduled to last all day on June 1 at Bonanzaville. The show is part of a five-city tour, and the venues are chosen for their historic significance. As all tickets are…

Shodan has been called the “scariest search engine on the internet.” It has the ability to expose and allow access to many devices including servers, computers, phones, fridges, traffic lights, security cameras and even control…

Wednesday, May 29, 5-8 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave N, FargoThis event is an open house style maker’s session. Participants will receive an 11 inch canoe model and access to a supply buffet. Artist Hosts will be available…

Editorial

Congrats grads!

by Sabrina Hornung

It’s that time of year again. Recent grads are unleashed and set out to make their mark on the world. It’s funny how something can be simultaneously liberating and terrifying. If we could spread any pearls of wisdom to these…

Guns, Lockdowns, and Panic ButtonsThe girl is now a seventh grader at Sandy Hook Elementary. In 2012 she was the only survivor of her first grade class of 21 in a mass school shooting. Among the first words by this six-year-old to…

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…

Quiche is a great addition to any brunch. It’s almost like a wardrobe staple that you can dress up or dress down. I made one for my 90-year-old grandma for mother’s day last weekend. She’s a good critic when I try out a new…

There is a golden oldie by Peter Allen called “Everything Old is New Again”, and that is certainly true about vinyl records. It is no secret that vinyl records are no longer just your parents’ musical format. Their…

Impossibly beautiful lead performers underline the YA fantasy aspects of Ry Russo-Young’s translation of “The Sun Is Also a Star,” based on Nicola Yoon’s bestseller. Russo-Young’s sharp handling of the 2017 adaptation of…

The Plains Art Museum is ready to take you back in time – or forward, if you prefer – for their 23rd annual Spring Gala. The theme for this year’s event, which takes place on Friday, May 3, is Time Machine.The Spring Gala is…

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his…

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 Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

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…

Last Word

Meritocracy is a lie

by HPR Contributor

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.eduIn 2017, Sociology Professor Rachel Sherman wrote “Uneasy Street: The Anxiety of Affluence,” a book which drew from 50 in-depth interviews with uber-wealthy New Yorkers in order to obtain a…