GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Six anti-abortion protesters were taken into custody for blocking a reproductive health clinic in Grand Rapids Wednesday morning.
A News 8 crew on the scene witnessed at least six men being taken into custody for blocking the Heritage Clinic for Women, located at 320 Fulton Street E.
Three protesters were taken into custody for blocking the employee entrance and three others for blocking the driveway to the facility.
Police Chief Eric Winstrom said the protesters were warned multiple times and aware they would be arrested.
“Three were arrested who were actually leaning up against the building, up against the door who were arrested for trespass and the three individuals who were blocking an active driveway were arrested for failing to obey a lawful order from a police officer, which the order was to allow vehicles to enter and exit the driveway,” Winstrom said.
He says the situation is different from other recent protests in the city where demonstrators blocked streets because of where this occurred.
“This, for us, was simply the case of private property and they just wanted access to the building, regardless of what was housed at the building. I understand the context of why that was going on but for us, like I say, we don’t write the law, we just enforce it and it’s a simple decision for us. This is a private entity that has the right to have access to their building,” Winstrom said.
He said the people arrested acknowledged they understood what would happen if they did not move.
“The ones that we arrested were warned multiple times. We made sure that, I believe we did it over the public address system. We also made sure that it was recorded on the officer and supervisor’s body worn camera so that there is a record of it and it was very clear and we actually got a verbal response back that they did understand the warning,” Winstrom said.
Some of the protesters said they were enforcing God’s and the state’s laws. There were around 50 protesters, according to the News 8 crew at the scene.
“We’re just all Christians who decided we wanted to do what’s right and honor God. So, they decided to make sure that the doors were covered in the back so that people couldn’t sneak in and do killing while we’re standing in the front,” said one protester, who only wanted to be identified as Jordon.
Michigan has a ban on performing abortions under most circumstances that dates back to 1931, but that ban is currently not being enforced. It’s in legal limbo while the state courts consider challenges by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, allowing states to ban abortion.
— News 8’s Meghan Bunchman contributed to this report.