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SCOTT HENSON Police stop abortion protesters escorting a hearse to Dallas City Hall The New Face of Intolerance BY SCOTT HENSON Euless IF ANYONE NEEDED MORE PROOF after last summer’s Republican convention in Houston, Operation Rescue’s “Cities of Refuge” protests in Dallas July 918 demonstrated the increasingly radical agenda of the religious right in Texas and around the nation. This year, moderate anti-abortion advocates in Texas began to distance themselves from Operation Rescue especially its Dallas-based spinoff the Pro-Life Action perform abortions and harasses them at their homes, churches and offices. Bill Price, president of Texas’ largest pro-life group, Texans licly denounced Operation Rescue, asking the group to stop its Cities of Refuge event because of potential violence. “There is a tremendous amount of hate and anger in the fringe of this movement,” Price told the Dallas Morning News. “Dallas, I very well believe, could be the place for the next cataclysmic event” comparable to Dr. David Gunn’s murder in Florida. Price’s fears are shared by the Dallas Police Department. In March a police officer testified that during PLAN protests this past spring, “Verbal anger, real hatred has occurred.” He advised the court that, “Those people are to the brink where I don’t know what they’ll do next.” “The next move could be violence … It’s getting worse.” On June 30, one week before the Refuge protests, an unknown person released noxious chemicals outside a Dallas abortion clinic, forcing the evacuation of 75 people. The next day, a member of Dallas Operation Rescue and PLAN, 31-year old Oldrich Tominek, was apprehended by the FBI while telephoning a bomb threat to another Dallas clinic from the Newark, New Jersey airport. So it was that the cops, the clinic personnel, everyone but the Rescuers themselves were delighted that the number of protesters was far lower than Operation Rescue had Henson is co-author of a forthcoming book, Counterrevolution on Campus, about the right wing in American universities, to be published by Guilford Press in spring 1994. He currently works for the public affairs department ” of Planned Parenthood in Austin. predicted. Fliers distributed at Austin’s “March for Jesus” in June predicted that the protest would draw 1,000 demonstrators. The actual number ranged from 40 to 75 at the clinics during the day, police said, although several times that many attended the nightly “rallies” at the Metroplex Chapel in Euless. Most participants came from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with only a handful out-of-town activists supplementing their numbers. Some Operation Rescue supporters blamed Bill Price’s public apostasies for the low turnout. Heading the protests on the ground was Rev. Flip Benham, a principal in both the Dallas-Fort Worth Operation Rescue and PLAN, who spent part of this spring in county jail. Protesters picketed two or three different abortion clinics each day, but encountered a strong police presence everywhere they went. Once, 12 anti-abortion-rights activists blocked the door to a clinic and refused to move, but were soon arrested and carted away by the police. They also targeted individual doctors, picketing outside the Dallas home and the Garland clinic of Dr. Harvey Johnson, and outside the Presbyterian. Hospital where PLAN’s long-time target Dr. Norman Tompkins practices. Betty Pettigrew, director of the North Dallas Women’s Clinic, said that only about 50 protesters showed up to the Cities of Refuge protest there Monday, compared to “30 or 40 on a heavy day” for local protests during the year. Three people were arrested in front of Pettigrew’s clinic, but she said the protest did not disrupt their day. “It was a nuisance,” she said, “everybody looking to see what’s going on. The police were around all day.” “They broke into this clinic in the early part of the year,” she added, and 12 people were arrested. Monday’s protest never approached that level of confrontation. As of this writing, with several days yet to go in the protest, police had arrested only 15 protesters and the demonstrations had been largely peaceful. Arrestees included Jack Devault, the head of Operation Rescue in San Antonio, Chris Keyes, a “Missionary to the Pre-Born” in Austin, and Laura Teller, director of the Dallas-based National Support of Pro-Life Activists. Far better attended than the daily protests were the nightly synods in Euless. Many of those who came attended Metroplex Chapel or one of a handful of other activist churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The most wellattended event of the week was Operation 8 JULY 16, 1993