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Randall Terry: Operation Rescue’s Man With Bullhorn

Times Staff Writer

Randall Terry, holding an Operation Rescue psalm book and murmuring “Holy Jesus,” was carried limp to a waiting police van Thursday as those he calls his enemies happily chanted, “Justice! Justice! Justice!”

Despite his protests that “25 million dead kids” and not his own image should concern his followers and detractors, the 29-year-old radical anti-abortionist occupied center stage at a Cypress clinic as he brought the movement’s lawless fringe to Southern California.

When Terry said sing, his followers sang. When he prayed, they prayed. When he gave orders, they obeyed.

Before his arrest, Terry, who was wearing white pants and a striped short-sleeved shirt, had advised his followers how to slow down the arrests.

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“Listen very carefully,” he said, explaining what to do aboard the sheriff’s bus. “Slide under your seat real easy, just slide under the floor. You can double or triple the amount of the time it takes to get a bus out of here.”

“Go limp,” he told one group of fresh troops. “And remember, you don’t have a name until we tell you you have a name,” he said, elaborating on how to delay the booking process.

When they veered toward the edge of discipline, he brought them back.

‘Let Them Out’

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“This is Randy Terry,” he said through a bullhorn to a mass of anti-abortion protesters who had linked arms and trapped a dozen pro-choice volunteers between themselves and a wall. “If they want out, let them out.”

They made a path instantly.

As the arrests continued, Terry complained to some of his followers: “This is happening too fast. They’re determined to kill babies here today.”

Terry spoke mostly to his lieutenants and offered nothing more than an unsmiling “no comment” to reporters. Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Anaheim-based Coalition for Traditional Values, said, “When Moses was on the mountain, he spoke to no man because he was receiving God’s word.”

At one point, Terry lay down his bullhorn and walkie-talkie and joined a group of protesters, singing in perfect harmony: “Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty!”

Though devotees call him a prophet and a general, Terry got the opposite message. Pro-choice opponents wore buttons reading: “Randy Terry Go Home and Take Your Fetus With You” and “I Aborted Randy Terry’s Love Child.”

Shouts From Allred

Attorney Gloria Allred stood about 12 yards from Terry and shouted: “Randall Terry, why don’t you come out from under your rock and debate like a human being?”

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Since starting his crusade against abortion in 1987, the lay preacher and former car dealer has been arrested more than 30 times in sit-ins nationwide.

Thursday, he was jovial as he waited on the community center tennis court along with fellow “rescuers” to be cited by Cypress police. He asked the faithful to clear a path for police who were releasing the first group suspected of unlawful assembly. And for one of the first times that day, he was smiling.


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