In a scene out of hell, West Hartford police cruelly and unceasingly brutalized hundreds of Rescuers at the Summit Women’s abortion mill in West Hartford on Saturday, June 17, l989. The abortuary is located in a shopping mall with a large parking lot. Over 500 prayer supporters had gathered outside, while 281 others entered the third-floor procedure rooms where the killing is done. Those present were from all over the Northeast corridor: New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.
At approximately 11:00 a.m., police – wearing no badges or name tags – threatened to arrest picketers if they did not move to the sidewalk on the street side of the parking lot. They used billy clubs to prod the protestors, arresting a 68-year-old mother of 12 who stumbled, was knocked to the ground and handcuffed. The same was done to her 70-year-old husband when he objected; and then to a photographer whose film the police deliberately exposed after he was arrested for taking pictures.
This is when police first employed strappado – that was to become the standard arrest technique used throughout the day. Strappado is an ancient form of torture where the victim’s hands are cuffed (in this case, plastic cuffs) behind the back. Next, billy clubs are inserted in each arm and then jerked up so that the victim’s full body weight is either dangling or left to drag.
Since the public was driven from the mall, Rescue supporters went to the police station to check on the safety of those arrested. Police brutality – which included forced strip searches – had been visited on the Rescuers at an April 1st Rescue in West Hartford and the fear of more savagery was in the air – for good reason.
At the police station, one by one, men and women, whether young or old were dragged off the bus head first and dropped face down on the pavement – except for those who had already been subject to too much pain. Most everyone else was completely limp, totally peaceful. They winced, many with faces contorted in agony; some moaning, some screaming. As their bodies swung on the sticks, some were kneed or kicked by police.
Retired 72-year-old Bishop George Lynch was dragged off the bus, back first. His arms were then bent upward and he was dragged on the seat of his pants for several yards with the police twisting his arms and wrists. Finally, the pain was too great and he was forced to walk the few remaining yards into the police station.
By 8:00 p.m., the last Rescuer was dragged into the police station. Moans and screams could be heard from inside. The prisoners were denied access to lawyers and medical doctors. After the police denied an epileptic her medicine, she eventually had a seizure in custody, two days later, on June 19th. Only then were the paramedics brought in. Rescuers were consistently denied access to any legal and medical attention.
Another woman, a nurse and mother of two, had her shoulder dislocated while being arrested in the abortion mill. In an affidavit, she stated that the police had used mace while arresting. She had put syrup on her neck so that pressure point holds could not be used. This angered the police arresting her and they grabbed her by the hair and bashed her head on the ground, causing her to black out. Later, she was picked up by her hair and carried onto the bus, according to eyewitnesses. When she went to the hospital after her release, an attending nurse was stunned by the clumps of hair that were pulled out. One priest lay face down on the floor of the bus for the three-mile ride to the station. His wrists were bleeding from the too tight handcuffs. Some people were held in strangleholds; fingers were bent back.
Our people will willingly endure whatever the state imposes with gratitude, for it is their deepest purpose to eliminate the double standard that separates the preborn from the rest of humanity. One baby is confirmed alive and well in its mother’s womb and will be brought to term. This was the victory our Rescuers sought and won in the face of a perverse and corrupt police department and legal system. They will not be stopped from saving babies.