MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WTVF) — Eight adults were charged and four children were cited after they blocked the door to an abortion clinic.
Mt. Juliet police said the incident began as a "peaceful assembly" with demonstrators protesting an abortion clinic outside the Providence Medical Pavilion building.
Police got a call shortly before 8 a.m. Friday that about 22 people, including some children, went inside and refused to leave. Four children, all said to be in their late teens, were charged with trespassing and issued juvenile citations. Eight adults were charged with trespassing, and four of them were also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Mt. Juliet residents are used to people standing on the sidewalk outside the Carafem clinic handing out anti-abortion literature. However, Friday was different. David Zastro said, "We wanted to make sure they don’t feel welcome to kill babies in this city."
Several anti-abortion protesters went inside and blocked the door so women couldn't enter. David Zastro said he stayed outside, "We understand there were some mothers who wanted to kill their babies inside the abortion clinic on the second floor, so a group of Christians decided they were able to stop that from happening.”
Another man who identified himself as a student at Reformation Bible College explained why he went inside. He didn’t give out his name. "The only aspect was putting ourselves between an abortion provider and women seeking abortion."
He said they call it an interposition. "This is not a protest, this is an act of trying to share the gospel with the world."
Mt. Juliet Police Captain Tyler Chandler said no one was hurt, and no one resisted arrest. "There wasn’t any force used, we didn’t have to forcefully remove anyone," Chandler said, "And then they began to pass out papers saying they were already arrested, so it appears this group showed up today with the intent on being arrested by our department."
The people eventually left, but made sure their message was heard. "God will hold this nation responsible for the babies we kill," Zastro said.
Carafem's COO issued a statement saying their doors will remain open:
At carafem, we fervently believe that every person should have access to a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including safe compassionate abortion care in order to make their own decisions about their lives, families, and futures without interference, shame or coercion. We will always stand by our clients and staff and want to assure the Nashville community that we are not going anywhere.
Today, a group of anti-abortion extremists trespassed inside a medical office building and formed a blockade outside the office door of carafem’s Mt. Juliet, Tennessee health center. At this time, the staff and patients inside the building are safe — but make no mistake, blocking the entrance into or out of any business is unconscionable — it is harassment, it is illegal and it will not be tolerated at carafem—not today, not any day.
No one should be blocked from getting health care or be intimidated when they seek to enter a small business of any kind. No one should experience intrusion or harassment. The tactics used by the anti-abortion extremists right here in Nashville and across the country are intended to shame, frighten, and prevent people from obtaining the legal goods and services that they want and need.
Our doors will continue to remain open for the city of Mt. Juliet and surrounding communities, despite opposition, to protect the sexual and reproductive health rights of all people.”
The City of Mount Juliet tried to block Carefem from opening in the Providence Medical Pavilion by changing the zoning. You may remember, a judge ruled against the city, and taxpayers had to reimburse the people representing Carafem for their attorney fees. Story here.