by Steven Ertelt
December 13, 2007
Ft. Madison, IA (LifeNews.com) — An Iowa man has been charged with assaulting pro-life advocates as they protested outside a campaign rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The pro-life protesters say police threatened to arrest them if they didn’t immediately leave the public sidewalk, but now the offender has been charged in the incident.
Jim Mitchell, a resident of the local town, is charged with assaulting Don Holman, of Keokuk, Iowa. The attack was captured on video.
Police were parked across the street from where Holman was standing on a public sidewalk last Friday.
According to eyewitnesses, Mitchell gt out of his vehicle and approached Holman with a club, shouting at him to get off his property.
Holman was attacked and struck with the club, officials with the pro-life group Operation Rescue told Lifenews.com.
"The man continued to try and assault me in the presence of three Fort Madison police officers," Holman said. "Rather than arresting the attacker the police threatened to arrest me."
"The police acknowledged that I was on a public right of way but said our presence posed a traffic hazard," Holman added.
Police told Holman that if he wanted charges pressed against the man with the club, he would have to go to the police station and fill out a report.
Holman complied with the order to leave under threat of arrest, and later filed a complaint against his attacker.
Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger told LifeNews.com that the incident points to problems with local police departments when it comes to protecting the free speech rights of pro-life people.
"Police departments across the nation have shown a disturbing disregard for the First Amendment rights of abortion protesters in recent weeks," she said.
"We have a great deal of respect for the vast majority of police officers, who are decent people, trying to do a very difficult job. However, rogue officers who bully and falsely arrest peaceful protesters … will be held legally accountable," she added.
Holman has protested with abortion signs at 32 of Clinton’s appearances in Iowa, the first presidential battleground state.