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Atlanta Police Impound Abortion Protesters’ Bus, Head Off Sit-Ins

Associated Press

Police headed off a planned second day of sit-ins and arrests at abortion clinics Wednesday by impounding a bus and increasing security at clinics where 343 people had been arrested a day earlier.

Fourteen protesters were arrested, and at least three were dragged to police vans. However, most demonstrators limited their activities to praying and singing hymns.

City Solicitor Raines Carter said that the 14 people arrested Wednesday were charged with giving a false name, unlawful assembly and refusing to obey a police officer.

Some of the protesters arrested Tuesday began posting bond Wednesday after identifying themselves. Protest organizers have encouraged those arrested to call themselves only “Baby John Doe” or “Baby Jane Doe” and remain in jail.

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The bus was impounded as it took demonstrators from a silent vigil at one clinic to a demonstration at another.

“The officer determined (the bus) to be unsafe for operation. When it was stopped, there was smoke coming out and it was crowded with too many people,” police spokeswoman Myrna May said. She did not know how many people were aboard.

Protesters had complained on Tuesday that police officers treated them with unnecessary roughness, twisting arms and fingers and using pressure-point holds just under the ears to force them into buses. Some screamed or cried as they were taken away, and four were treated for apparently minor injuries.

George Napper, Atlanta commissioner of public safety, said he believed that there had been isolated incidents “in which police could have acted more gently” but that he thought the overall reaction was justified.

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Police announced last week that officers would use rougher tactics on demonstrators this week than they had during the Democratic National Convention in July, when Operation Rescue first organized protests in Atlanta.

On Wednesday, demonstrators arrived gradually at the Feminist Women’s Health Clinic, where policemen arrested one person for trying to jump a barricade and two others for assaulting a woman trying to enter the clinic, Maj. W. W. Holley said. About 50 police officers, including several on horses, were posted at the small clinic.

About 75 people at an anti-abortion rally Tuesday night stayed behind for tactical training and said they would take part in Wednesday’s action and face arrest, but fewer than that were at the clinic.

Joseph Foreman, a leader of Operation Rescue, which is organizing a week of attempts to close Atlanta abortion clinics, said demonstrators would try to cross police lines “only if we see a woman preparing to go in and kill her child.”


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