Monday, July 16, 2007

Face the Truth Tour Recap

Blazing Heat. Driving Winds. Downpours. Uncooperative Police. Lots of middle fingers and nasty insults. One assault (against me). Lots of thumbs-up and "God bless you"s. People stopping their cars to argue with us. People stopping their cars to give us donations and thank us for being there. Countless hearts changed. Babies' lives saved.

All of the above provide a partial description of our Face the Truth Tour last week.

Eric Scheidler will soon have a full report on the Tour on the Pro-Life Action League's home page, but for now I wanted to get the word out about the assault last Monday.

This wasn't the first time that one of us was a victim of violence during a pro-life demonstration, and I'm sure it won't be the last, either.

First, some background: Last Monday, July 9, was the second day of the Tour. It was held in downtown Chicago. The temperature topped out at 94 degrees in the early afternoon, and soon after the sky started clouding over, and it got really windy.

We had planned to be at the intersection of Adams Street & Wacker Drive -- directly across from the Sears Tower -- from 3:30 to 5:30, but around 4:30, it started pouring.

A Face the Truth Tour is kind of like a baseball game: You can still get it in if the rain is light enough, but if there's any significant rainfall, you've got to bring the signs in -- mostly because no one can see them anyway.

That's what we had to do last Monday.

In the meantime, I had to run five blocks to go and get the van and bring it back to the site so we could load up the signs. Shortly after I got back, we got all the signs loaded up, along with a couple of coolers, into the van. By that time, it was still raining, but not quite as hard.

Our group had taken shelter under a nearby dry spot, and we were about to pray, as we always do after each Tour site.

Just then I happened to look back at the van, and saw the back door fly open, and one of the coolers come out. Then I saw one of our Malachi signs go sailing into the middle of Wacker Drive.

I ran over to the van and saw a guy pull another Malachi sign out of the van, and I asked him what he was doing. He just looked at me, and then threw it into the street, too.

At that point, I yelled, "Call the police!" Then, the guy shoved me.

I yelled again, "Call the police! This man just assaulted me!" (In case you didn't know -- and I'm guessing a lot of people don't -- shoving someone is one of many examples of assault, and assault is an arrestable offense.)

Then, I tried to restrain the guy. Knowing how unlikely it is that the police would ever catch the guy if he got away, I wasn't about to let that happen.

Now, this was a big guy. I'm a skinny guy. To be honest, I didn't have much chance of restraining him myself.

He got away, and then ran. I ran after him, and I caught up with him before he could cross Adams Street, again tried to restrain him, but this time, he threw me to the ground.

The back of my head slammed into the pavement, and my right arm ended up bloody from a couple of nasty cuts.

By the time I got up, I looked up and saw that Eric, along with three other guys from our group, had managed to restrain the guy in the middle of Adams Street. (During evening rush hour -- when all this was happening -- Adams Street is one of the busiest streets heading out of downtown.)

Not sure if anyone had actually called the police yet -- apparently someone had, but I don't know for sure -- I called 911 from my cell phone and reported that I had just been assaulted.

By this time, a security guard from the building we had been standing under came over and tried telling Eric and the other guys who were restraining the guy that they couldn't hold him. Eric -- God bless him -- made it very clear that he and the other three guys had no intention of letting go of the guy until the police arrived.

At that point, realizing that Eric and the other three were not going to let the guy go and escape arrest, the security guard suggested that they at least move out of the street, which they did.

All the while, the guy who opened up our van, threw our signs in the street and assaulted me was yelling to the huge crowds passing by about how he was the victim. "Four against one! Four against one!" Etc.

At one point, one passerby said to Eric, "Why don't you let the guy go?" Eric replied, "Would you let the guy go if he just assaulted your friend?"

That passerby then passed by.

Soon after, a fire truck and an ambulance arrived. No sign of the police yet.

One firefighter asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, and I said no. (Some of the people in our group who saw me hit the ground said I hit my head really hard, but since I didn't have any concussion-like symptoms, I had no desire to sit in an emergency room and wait for who-knows-how-long for a doctor to see me and eventually tell me I had managed to avoid any serious head injury.)

Finally, the police got there. I explained what happened. They talked to the guy briefly, cuffed him, and put him in the back of the squad car.

A couple of passersby told us that if we needed any witnesses, they said they saw the whole thing. They talked to the police, and apparently they corroborated my story.

For reasons I'm not entirely sure of, the cops said they had to wait for their sergeant to get there until the guy could be charged.

Eventually -- at least half an hour later -- the sergeant arrived. He asked me if I wanted to press charges, and I said yes. Then he talked to the two other officers. One of them asked me to sign a complaint saying that the guy had committed battery against me. They gave me a court date: July 30. They explained that if I fail to show up, the charges against him will be dropped.

That won't be a problem -- I'll show up.

I'll let you know what happens in court that day.


See also Erin Yonke's blog about her experience with us last week. (This year was Erin's first time on a Face the Truth Tour.)

(Cross-posted at Generations for Life)

**UPDATE: 7/30/07:The guy told the judge he wants to hire a lawyer. So, the judge granted a continuance and told him to come back September 5.

**UPDATE: 9/5/07: The guy pled guilty and was given 12 months court supervision.


PB said...

Good for you, I'll be looking forward to the update after the court date.

sunnyday said...

Oh my gosh, how horrible. Are you alright? It's still hard for me to come to terms with the fact that some people would hurt others that way--and for what? To prevent spreading the message that human life is precious? I hope your injury doesn't involve more than a nasty bump on your head, John.

So was the guy paid to do that? Pls. keep us updated. And God be with you on the 31st.

On another note, thanks for passing by my blog! I'll just send you a separate email about our magazine =)


John Jansen said...


Thanks for the well wishes.


Thanks for asking; I'm fine, actually. My head must have hit "just right" -- so to speak -- as there is no bump there, and at this point the cuts on my arm are pretty much healed.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you ran after that guy!! You are way too crazy! I'm glad you stuck to your guns though. Does your mom know about this incident yet?