Once again, adults used their position and experience in an attempt to squash peaceful student free speech on behalf of mothers and their pre-born infants. This time the encounter took place on Saturday at a ritzy art gallery in San Francisco.
A visit to a Dr. Seuss-themed art display turned ugly when a pro-abortion employee spotted Students for Life of America signs in the hands of two students who were enjoying the presentation. She began yelling at 11 pro-life students from Sacramento State, part of a young adult group through the Diocese of Sacramento geared towards Hispanic Catholics.
But you don’t have to take our word for it.
Caught on tape, you can see the woman, later identified as en employee of the Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery, screaming at the students who pulled out their phones after getting over their surprise at the unexpected confrontation.
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“Just an FYI, we’re getting kicked out because we’re pro-life,” someone can be heard saying in a video that captured part of the encounter.
“Good, yes, yes,” the woman at the gallery says in response. “I am pro-life. I am pro-choice. You are pro-death.”
“I felt like it was very like 1950s, like getting kicked out of a restaurant because of your race,” student Carmen Perez told reporters. “But in this case, it was because of our political views.”
According to Perez, she and her friends had attended the Walk for Life that morning and around 9 p.m. went to the art gallery to look at the exhibits. Another member of the group entered after them and while getting something out of her purse, accidentally unfolded her Students for Life “I Am The Pro-Life Generation” sign.
The pro-abortion employee, seen on the video, began berating her and then went to the back of gallery, approaching other students to ask if they also were anti-abortion, which the students said, lead to a tirade from the employee about how she had gone to Planned Parenthood herself, before kicking all of them out of the gallery — those with signs and those without who acknowledged their pro-life views.
Later, the gallery owner tried to distance himself from the situation, calling it a “misunderstanding” and that employees were just trying to close the business. However, the timestamp on the video shows that the encounter took place at about 9:15 p.m., while the gallery’s Facebook says the business is open until 10 p.m. on Saturdays.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, noted the ugly similarities between this incident and the news media attack on Covington Catholic students, observing: “This incident in the Dennis Rae Art Gallery in which students just holding Students for Life signs were verbally attacked and thrown out of business illustrates a broader trend. We are seeing adults use their experience and authority to harass students and suppress their free-speech rights. This is what happened when professional activist Nathan Phillipsapproached high school junior Nick Sandmann from Covington Catholic and now in a San Francisco art gallery after a peaceful Walk for Life.
“Adults actively working to shout down students with whom they disagreed with should know better. This is a disturbing trend we are seeing more frequently on college and high school campuses when students courageously step forward to start Students for Life groups or advocate for mothers and pre-born children. Rather than training up the next generation or welcoming them to participate in politics and public conversations, pro-abortion adults now seem to use their power against peaceful students who are voicing their support for mothers and their pre-born infants.”
In response to the media’s coverage and the owner’s half-hearted apology, the students released the following statement:
Statement From Students Involved
We appreciate the owner’s partial apology, but he fails to address the misstatements made by his employees to us. We were peaceful and we respectfully left even though we were treated disrespectfully. This apology does not acknowledge what happened to us as Profile advocates from California who were in San Francisco utilizing our constitutional right to free speech.
The apology failed to address false statements made by the employees at the Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery:
We did NOT walk into the gallery while employees were closing the gallery. We DID go in at around 9pm when the gallery was still open during its business hours, which are from 10am to 10pm on Saturdays (as stated on Google). We were greeted by an employee who was gracious and welcoming.
We did NOT hesitate to leave when the second employee yelled at us to leave, after she asked us if we were with “those anti-abortion” supporters. We complied immediately and calmly left as is shown in the original non-edited 40-second video at 9:15pm.
We did NOT threaten the second employee even though she was yelling at us and flipped us off when we were already outside the gallery. She then came outside to continue yelling as another employee tried to restrain her. The second employee however pushed her way out to confront one of the men in our group. She got in his face as we pulled him away; we were afraid she would assault him.
We were respectful, we told the employee that we LOVED her.
Never in our lives as prolife advocates have we ever experienced such fear, disrespect and hostility for our political and religious beliefs. The owner failed to mention that his employee was clearly throwing us out for our prolife views, as she states it in the video. It does not matter how tired or long her day was, it was no excuse for her to treat us in such a brash manner.
We send the owner and the employee love and prayers and hope that this was a one-time event and that such discrimination will never happen again on their business premises. We were taught to give respect and that is what we gave the employees at the gallery.
Alex Gonzalez Juan Vargas
Gabriel Voehl Diana Cornejo
Erica Hernandez Simone Cameron
Nancy Soria-Ramirez Carmen Perez
LifeNews Note: Matt Lamb is director of communications with Students for Life of America.