On August 4, an anti-abortion protestor affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York assaulted three members of NYC for Abortion Rights during a demonstration in front of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral and was detained by the police.
On the first Saturday of every month, the Archdiocese of New York leads a procession from St. Patrick’s to the nearby Planned Parenthood to harass patients and dissuade them from entering the clinic. This Saturday, about 40 members of NYC for Abortion Rights gathered in the street in front of the church to counterprotest, chanting “stop harassing women.” Within moments of the procession leaving the church, a man standing at the front stepped forward and assaulted a counterprotester, Flynn Murray. She was carrying a banner with the words “Trust Women”; he charged at her and swung his body at her left side. “I stumbled back from the force of the blow,” said Murray. As friars, nuns, and parishioners watched, the man hit another counterprotester, Ed Bonfanti, who had rushed forward to deescalate the situation, and jumped back with his fists up. The man then shoved a third counterprotester, Ronnie Almonte, before a police officer intervened and cuffed him; this assault was filmed by a member of NYCFAR and posted here.
“At no point during my assault or the other two assaults did any of the friars, nuns, or church officials do anything to try to stop this member of their church,” said Murray.
Even in the long moments after the assaults, before the police detained him, “this man stood next to the leaders of the Archdiocese,” Bonfanti observed, “and I didn’t see them do anything at all stop him. And we have not heard a word from the Archdiocese condemning this violence.”
After the assaults, NYCFAR managed to peacefully delay the anti-abortion group from getting to Planned Parenthood for close to an hour, and succeeded in forcing them to stand on a cross street rather than right across from the clinic entrance.
NYCFAR calls on the Archdiocese of New York as well as the leaders and members of St. Patrick’s to condemn the actions of their fellow protester and stop harassing patients at Planned Parenthood. NYCFAR remains committed to nonviolent direct action in support of a grassroots movement for abortion access without shame or stigma.
Murray states that she plans to press charges. “These people are not pro-life; they are anti-choice, they want the power to regulate women’s bodies, and they do not care for the safety of women,” she said.