- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 26, 2022

Police arrested dozens of pro-choice protesters in cities across the country over the weekend as activists who took to the streets to denounce the Supreme Court’s overturning of nationwide abortion rights directed their anger at conservative justices, Republican lawmakers and right-leaning news outlets.

Pro-choice protests large and small erupted across the country, including in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

Law enforcement in Phoenix, Arizona, disbursed a crowd gathered outside the state’s Senate building Friday evening after the situation escalated into what Republican state lawmakers called an “insurrection.”

“While Arizona State Senate members were wrapping up passing important legislation for the session, extremist demonstrators made their way to the entrance of the Senate building and began forcibly trying to make entry by breaking windows and pushing down doors,” the state lawmakers said in a statement.

Tweets from the scene show heavily armed officers gathered in and around the building as protesters gathered outside.

One post from Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers shows police deploying tear gas to disperse the crowd.

SEE ALSO: Protesters take to the streets denouncing Dobbs ruling overturning Roe

Between 7,000 and 8,000 people attended the protest, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Close to 100 people attempted to breach the Senate Building.

“What began as a peaceful protest evolved into anarchical and criminal actions by masses of splinter groups,” the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement. “As groups realized the state legislature was in session, they attempted to breach the doors of the Arizona Senate and force their way into the building.”

“The violence of their efforts literally shook the building and terrified citizens and lawmakers who occupied the building,” the authorities said. “As the glass doors bowed from attempts of forced entry, the occupants of the building were instructed to move to secure locations.”

No arrests were made in the incident.

Protests continued across the country Saturday.

In South Carolina, six people were arrested when opposing groups converged in downtown Greenville on Saturday evening.

SEE ALSO: Hutchinson says Supreme Court abortion decision saves lives, AOC says women will die

Police expected 100 protesters for a planned hourlong demonstration, but a crowd of between 400 and 500, with activists on both sides of the abortion issue, showed up.

“On several occasions, officers had to address people in the roadway and parties from one side trying to go over to another,” the department said.

Authorities deemed the gathering an unlawful assembly after demonstrators refused to clear the roadway. After multiple warnings, police arrested one protester which spurred others to interfere with the arrest.

Six people face charges ranging from disorderly conduct to interfering with police, authorities said.

Police in Colorado are investigating a fire at a pregnancy center near Denver that broke out early Saturday.

Vandals spray-painted “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” on the front of the Longmont building.

No injuries were reported from the fire, which police are investigating as arson. The FBI evidence response team is assisting in the investigation.

An off-duty police officer was charged Saturday in Rhode Island for punching a woman at an abortion protest at the State House in Providence on Friday.

Jeann Lugo, 35, faces assault and disorderly conduct charges for punching Jennifer Rourke, a state Senate candidate, during a fight at the protest.

Ms. Rourke, a Democrat who chairs the progressive Rhode Island Political Cooperative, said she was attempting to escort a counterprotester from the demonstration when the altercation broke out.

Mr. Lugo turned himself in Saturday. He told the Boston Globe that he “stepped in to protect someone in the group that agitators were attacking.”

In Los Angeles, one man has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly attacking a police officer as a pro-choice protest in the city devolved into a clash with public safety officers.

Police say Michael Ortiz, 30, threw a makeshift flamethrower at an officer who was treated for burns following the incident.

Others threw “fireworks and other makeshift weapons,” at police, authorities say, as the protests stretched into Friday evening.

The demonstrators marched on the 110 Freeway, blocking access to cars in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore expressed gratitude that the “events were largely peaceful,” but acknowledged that the demonstrations reached a tipping point.

“Unfortunately some chose to enter the freeway posing a serious risk,” the police chief tweeted. “Later a much smaller group fired pyrotechnics at officers. Our people strived to facilitate demonstrations while defending our people from dangerous assaults.”

Authorities in Oregon arrested 10 pro-choice protesters when a demonstration in Eugene devolved into a violent clash with police.

Police said people began arriving in the area “wearing all black clothing with masks and hoods,” at around 9:21 p.m. on Friday. Some of the demonstrators picked up rocks and began putting on gas masks as the crowd grew, Eugene’s police department said in a statement.

Authorities said protesters began throwing smoke bombs and filled water bottles at police officers attempting to clear a roadway blocked by the demonstration.

The majority of those arrested face charges of disorderly conduct. One faces charges of harassment and another was charged with resisting arrest.

Police arrested at least two dozen demonstrators, according to estimates, in New York on Friday as thousands marched through the city holding signs that said “Keep your laws off my body,” and shouting “My body, my choice.”

One police officer estimated as many as 17,000 protesters were in the crowd, the New York Post reported.

The crowd chanted “Burn it down!” as it marched outside of Fox News’s headquarters as it snaked through the city before blocking traffic in Midtown Manhattan at around 11 p.m.

In Washington, demonstrators began congregating outside of the Supreme Court soon after the decision was announced. Washington has been on edge awaiting the ruling since a draft decision was leaked and published by Politico.

Pro-choice protesters, enraged by the expected overturning of Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, have shown up outside the houses of conservative justices.

The crowd outside of the Supreme Court, which included both supporters and those opposed to the decision, grew throughout the afternoon and into the evening before dispersing at around 11 p.m.

U.S. Capitol Police deployed in riot gear to the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon as the demonstration grew, though the demonstrations remained largely peaceful.

Demonstrators returned to the Supreme Court on Saturday, where activists splattered red paint on the sidewalk. Two were arrested for destruction of property.

The Metropolitan Police Department announced that it would remain in “full departmental activation” until Tuesday.

“Mayor [Muriel] Bowser has been briefed and is committed to providing the necessary resources and support to keep our community safe,” the MPD said in a statement. “As the nation’s capital, we take seriously our responsibility to support First Amendment rights.”

Multiple groups pledged on Twitter on Friday to protest outside of the houses of the conservative justices, where U.S. Marshals have increased security in recent weeks.

Small groups of protesters gathered near the homes of Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas on Friday.

Pro-choice groups have called for a “Summer of Rage” in response to the decision.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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