Six Pre-Reqs

Six prerequisites before re-building pro-life nonviolence

An open letter to a great pro-life hero, John Ryan

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I have a deep and permanent admiration for the great pro-life hero, John Ryan. If you want to understand what pro-life nonviolence looks like, check out his story. He’s not perfect, probably, but …

John spent years talking to reluctant parents outside abortion clinics, especially one near St. Louis, in a jurisdiction where the judge refused to bring John’s repeated trespass cases to trial. The local police “understood” that they were arresting a habitual law-breaker, but he was going free. So on top of the job they were (arguably) authorized to carry out – arresting officer – they also appointed themselves judge and jury and executioner. They found John guilty and beat the hell out him, week after week, sometimes twice a week. Over and over, in or near a cop car or wagon:

Smack, whack! 
John: Augh! A-a-ah! God bless you, officer!
Smack, whack! 
John: Augh! A-a-ah! God bless you, officer!

Hundreds and hundreds of arrests. Some led to on-the-scene improv beatings, but other led to months and months in jail. Repeatedly.

Despite his heroism, John was often treated with contempt by other rescuers. I have no understanding of that, can’t possibly explain it, and won’t try. I note the fact, and stand speechless, aghast.

In April 2017, John Ryan invited activists to meet and discuss the future of the rescue movement. He kindly invited me. I am not at all sure I belong at his meeting. For one thing, I am quite sure that most activists have absolutely no understanding of nonviolence, nor even much interest in it. For another, I don’t see an emerging leadership ready to lead a resurgence of pro-life nonviolence. And third, I think there are at least six different hurdles to get over before new leaders can start building a nonviolent movement. So John has invited a wet blanket.

Nonetheless, if John speaks, I listen, with respect. He is a faithful friend, and a true hero.