A judge found four abortion protesters--two state lawmakers, an obstetrician and an evangelist--in contempt Thursday for violating his order against picketing in front of a medical building, and he ordered them to jail today.
Superior Court Judge Willard Zellmer ruled that state Reps. Richard Van Dyke and Steven Fuhrman, along with Spokane obstetrician Alfred Derby and the Rev. Daniel Scalf of Seattle, were in contempt when they carried their protest to the front of a nine-story medical building that houses several offices where abortions are performed.
Zellmer had issued an order in March, limiting protests to a less-traveled side of the Sixth Avenue Medical Building. The injunction was obtained by the building’s owners and several doctors after employees and patients complained of harassment.
Two women have already spent 10 days in jail for violating Zellmer’s order. A third was arrested and released after posting $5,000 bond.
Zellmer said that the two legislators could be released immediately without having to post bail. But he said that Scalf would have to post $2,500 bail and Derby $5,000--or sign statements promising not to violate the order again.
Derby’s bail was higher for repeated violations of the order.
Lawyers for the building’s owners have been giving the judge the names of protesters, and an affidavit on Wednesday’s protest was submitted at a hearing Thursday.
Scalf was not named in the affidavit. However, he testified voluntarily that he knew about the injunction and willfully violated it.
The Seattle evangelist, a leader in the Northwest Council for Religious Freedom, said that Zellmer’s order violated his First Amendment’s right to free speech. He added that he would not post bail or agree not to violate the order.