KEYWORDS: law, people, police, aaron, picketing, picket

Protesters Should Obey the Law

David Berg

DO 2581 9/89

1. I think those anti-abortion protesters blockading abortion clinics with force & then actually refusing to leave when the police demand, making the police carry them to the paddy wagons etc., are setting a rather poor example of Christians. I think for them to deliberately disobey the law & forcibly prevent the customers from entering is a little bit extreme.

2. They could do like we used to in Huntington Beach. We protested & picketed several schools & churches etc. where they wouldn't let us in to witness or anything. In the church of Dave Wilkerson's cousin, they wouldn't even let us in the door‚ even when we agreed not to come en masse. In fact‚ he told them to shut out all hippies, anybody that even looked hippie! There were other hippies coming who weren't even part of us & they turned them away right at the door!

3. But they had very strict picketing laws in California. Shad had been a labour & picket leader, so he knew all the laws & the limits. You weren't allowed to block driveways or entrance ways or sidewalks or picket in the street. You also had to stay on one side of the sidewalk so that people could walk by, & stay far enough apart that people could even go through your picket line if they wanted to. The law restricted the size of the signs & all of that.

4. The idea of picketing is to try to voluntarily persuade people, not to force them! A man persuaded against his will is of the same opinion still! You can understand why the church Christians are so furious that they want to keep the doctors from killing the babies, but as long as the law allows abortion & also prohibits them from blockading the entrances, I don't think I'd agree with that forced blockading, so that people can't even get into the clinics.

5. That's not exactly democratic & I can understand how the law feels about it. If the Christians want to legally picket, all right. But to prevent the place from doing business as long as the law is on the side of the clinic, I'd say that it'd be a lot safer to respect the law & just peacefully picket with signs that'll convict the women. They could also try to talk to the women, witness to them or give them tracts. The Lord doesn't usually force people to do things!

6. We were very careful to strictly keep the law in our picketing in the early days, & the only times we were thrown in jail were when some of our kids foolishly broke the law so that the police had to arrest them! One time was the Westgate College group, when Ho stubbornly refused to leave the school grounds, & another when Aaron led a group to an elementary school, of all things! People are very very touchy about their young kids, & Aaron had some of our folks kneeling down on the ground with their hands on the kids' heads praying for them! Of course the parents weren't going to tolerate that kind of thing!

7. The police came very slowly & warned Aaron & his group to leave the grounds or they were going to arrest them & put them in jail. When they saw the cops coming‚ some of our people very wisely left so they didn't get arrested, but dear Aaron stubbornly refused to go & led the group of 14 who stayed with him. The police then began to arrest them, very slowly & leisurely, one by one, trying to give our kids a chance to change their minds!

8. But no, Aaron wouldn't give up! He stubbornly held out & the rest followed him, so the 14 of them went to jail! That was a case of resisting & disobeying a police officer. The police could get them on all kinds of charges.

9. So it just doesn't pay to resist the law like that & to belligerently & stubbornly refuse to obey an officer! If you can somehow get away with it so you don't have to have a face-to-face confrontation & where they have to use force, if you can somehow avoid or evade them, that's a different thing. The police just want to get you out of the way, they don't want to have any trouble. But if you stubbornly refuse to obey them‚ you're bound to have trouble, & I think that's where those people get a little out of line. There must be some radicals in that Pro-Life movement, some fanatics like Aaron!

10. I don't think that kind of forcible resistance is wise at all. I don't think it pays. We strictly kept all the laws about picketing etc., & the only two times they got thrown in jail were when they resisted, when they refused to disperse or disobeyed some picketing law. So I think if those protesters could possibly avoid or evade it, they should. It's better not to forcibly disobey the law & resist arrest & that sort of thing‚ it just isn't wise.

11. (Maria: I'm glad you said that, because I'm sure some of our people have wondered about it!) We were always careful to keep the law in all of our picketing & demonstrating etc. I don't think it's a good testimony to forcibly disobey the law & resist the police.