By Associated Press - Friday, April 9, 2021

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (AP) - Two security guards hired by an anti-abortion group are facing misdemeanor charges after using pepper spray on counter-protesters outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in a San Francisco suburb, authorities said Friday.

Ishatpal Momi, 27, of Elk Grove and Peter Reeves, 45, of Sacramento are charged with battery and illegally possessing pepper spray canisters that were larger than permitted by state law, the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office said.

The men hadn’t been arraigned and it wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys to speak for them.

The armed private security guards were hired to protect the group 40 Days for Life during an Oct. 13 protest outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Walnut Creek, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

Planned Parenthood supporters also had gathered. When a fight broke out, the security guards used their pepper spray on members of the opposing group, authorities said.

“Hours later that same day, additional individuals arrived on scene and the security guards deployed their pepper spray again against the other victims,” the DA’s office statement said.

A total of four people were affected by the spray, the statement said.

In the wake of the protest, Walnut Creek City Councilman Kevin Wilk called for buffer zones at protests and said he opposed bringing armed guards to demonstrations.

“Based on the weapons these guards had, it looks like these guards were there to intimidate and prepare for escalation,” Wilk said, according to a Bay Area News Group story.

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