By Meredith Raney
Published March 1, 2000
MELBOURNE, FL — The following letter was sent to U.S. Representative Dave Weldon of the 15th Congressional District of Florida by pro-lifer Meredith Raney requesting a Congressional investigation of certain discriminatory practices by the U. S. Department of Justice in the enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) law.
2488 Burns Ave
Melbourne, FL 32935
March 1, 2000
U. S. Representative Dave Weldon
2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way
Melbourne, FL 32940-8006
Re: Request for Congressional investigation
Dear Congressman Weldon,
As you know, several citizens, including myself, have been working with your staff in your local office on the issue of getting the FBI to investigate local incidents of FACE violations against certified pro-life referral counselors. As you also know, FACE protects all reproductive health service providers whether they counsel toward abortion and death for the unborn child or toward life for everyone.
I am afraid that the FBI and the Justice Department are not applying the FACE law equally. I offer two letters from the Justice Department as evidence.
The first letter was written to my attorney, Chris Sapp on November 19, 1999 by Albert N. Moskowitz, Section Chief, Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, U. S. Department of Justice. In the last paragraph of the letter, he says the Justice Department “ will continue its vigorous enforcement of applicable statutes against all those who attempt to use violence to achieve their ends. “ The FACE law does NOT read that way and has NOT been applied that way when used against pro-lifers. You have personal knowledge of one incident where two of your constituents, Eric Olson and Ray Unterburger, were prosecuted and convicted under FACE for a totally peaceful, non-violent sit-in at an abortion clinic in Palm Beach County . They spent four months in prison. The case number is 9:95cr08025, USA v. Olson . Other peaceful pro-lifers were convicted of FACE recently in Washington, DC. Still another trial of peaceful pro-lifers is pending in Dayton, Ohio. Similar peaceful sit-ins during the civil rights movement resulted in the Woolworth’s lunch-counter from that store in Greensboro, NC being installed in the Smithsonian Institution in celebration of these peaceful, non-violent sit-ins that resulted in the overturn of unjust segregation laws. See http://www.si.edu/i+d/sitins.v2.4.html on the Internet.
Violation of the FACE law does not require violence as evidenced by Ray and Eric’s conviction among others. Intimidation, or attempted intimidation is all that is required to be in violation. The Justice Department seems to have a different enforcement policy when pro-lifers are on the receiving end of FACE violations. Protection under the law is to be equal without regard to viewpoint.
The Justice Department is not providing equal protection under the FACE law for pro-lifers. See the second letter from the Justice Department. This one is from the U. S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, Thomas E. Scott. The addressee’s name and address is covered to protect the source of this copy of the letter. It is an invitation “ to a regional briefing of law enforcement officials on the nature and pattern of violence and potential violence against reproductive health care providers. “ The letter goes on to say, “ This briefing is one of a number of such briefings being conducted nationwide. “ Among other things, the briefing included, “ A review by representatives of national organizations involved in clinic security and local reproductive health clinics of current trends and patterns of violent activity in this region and throughout the country. “ I don’t know of one pro-life individual or organization, national or otherwise, who was invited.
The addressee was encouraged to bring “ any other personnel you feel could benefit from this information. Also, I expect that clinics in this area will participate by sending key staff members and/or doctors to exchange information about security issues. “ Again, I know of no pro-life “ clinics in this area “ or pro-life “ key staff members and/or doctors “ who were invited.
The letter went on, “ This briefing is designed to provide the most up-to-date information and resources available to assist you in addressing possible violence at reproductive health care clinics. “ Again, I know of no pro-life reproductive health care clinics or crisis pregnancy centers, or even “places of religious worship”(also specifically protected by FACE, para. (a) ) who were invited. The recent shootings at the Wedgwood Baptist Church (a place of religious worship) in Fort Worth was a blatant violation of FACE but so far no FACE charges have been filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Why not? Please don’t let them tell you that it was because the shooter killed himself. Paul Hill was immediately captured after he murdered the abortionist in Pensacola. He was no longer a threat to anybody. That didn’t stop the Justice Department from sending out federal marshals to guard abortion clinics all over the country. Two federal marshals were guarding the abortion clinic in Melbourne every hour they were open for eleven months after the Paul Hill murder. I know of no federal marshals dispatched to churches, or “places of religious worship,” after the Wedgwood shootings. Why not? Both murders were FACE violations.
Had I known about this briefing before it happened, I would have signed up and been right there to benefit from the knowledge being dispersed and coordinated by my government using my tax dollars. Neither I, nor any other pro-lifer I know of, was given this opportunity.
FACE is a content neutral law that protects both sides of the abortion issue as well as places of religious worship and not just the abortion industry. The Justice Department is enforcing it as if it were a law protecting just the abortion industry. They apparently only invited people from the abortion industry and intentionally avoided inviting anyone from the religious worship or pro-life industry. This is unequal protection under the law which may even rise to the level of a conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1985 which was passed in 1871 to protect abolitionists from conspiracies plotted out by former slaver owners and the K.K.K., and thus should likewise apply to discriminatory plans raised against religious worshipers and pro-lifers.
Please have Congress investigate this apparent conspiracy against religious worshipers and pro-lifers. If there were any religious worshipers, pro-lifers or related organizations invited, I would like to know who they were. In fact, under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like a complete list of all the attendees. Also, I would like a complete list of all such “ briefings being conducted nationwide “ and a complete list of attendees at those briefings as well.
(signed) Meredith Raney
1) Letter to Chris Sapp dated Nov. 19, 1999 from U.S. Justice Dept. See http://www.forerunner.com/fyi/images/dojltr111999.jpg
2) Letter to (covered) dated 12/21/99 from U.S. Justice Dept.
See part 1 http://www.forerunner.com/fyi/images/dojltr122199p1.jpg
part 2 http://www.forerunner.com/fyi/images/dojltr122199p2.jpg
PS: One other thing on the local level I would like to point out to you. It has been relayed to me through various people in the Brevard County administration that Brevard County Sheriff Phil Williams insisted that the county put up that $4,000 fence around two sides of the Suntree Plaza abortion clinic based on a conversation with a “powerful Washington, DC attorney” or words to that effect. I suppose that the county administrators in charge of putting up the fence assumed that this lawyer was from the Department of Justice or some other government agency in Washington. This is not the case. This lawyer is Sara Love, a private lawyer who is the Legal Defense Director for the Feminist Majority Foundation, and an attorney in a Chicago law firm which litigated the NOW v. Scheidler case on behalf of NOW. She is a lawyer for the abortion industry. I don’t know how she represented herself to Sheriff Williams, but she is far from an unbiased advisor and she is definitely not from the government in Washington, DC.
Since December, when the fence was put up, Sheriff Williams has been promising something in writing justifying putting up that fence. To date nothing in writing has been provided.
Note: FACE = Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law, 18 USC §248.
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