Here in Salem, the so-called "The Church at Planned Parenthood - Salem OR" has been holding anti-abortion protests (which they call services) at the Planned Parenthood health center on Wolverine Street NE.
I said so-called because Awakening Ministries is the group behind The Church at Planned Parenthood -- which basically is a national group that local churches can become a franchise of.
I'm an atheist who supports a woman's right to choose an abortion. So I strongly oppose what The Church at Planned Parenthood (TCAPP) is trying to accomplish through its services/protests.
However, that group has a right to protest peacefully. Unfortunately, on at least one occasion that I'm aware of, counter-protesters showed up at a TCAPP service where Proud Boys were present. Predictably, fights broke out between the Proud Boys and counter-protesters.
I've been arguing on Facebook that counter-protesters should stay away from any gathering featuring the Proud Boys.
The Proud Boys enjoy fighting with liberal counter-protesters or antifa. So it makes no sense for counter-protesters to give the Proud Boys what they want by arming themselves with paint ball guns, baseball bats, spears, and other weapons also used by the Proud Boys.
By and large I'm against counter-protests in general. Protesting should be positive. If a Salem group wants to protest anti-abortion laws in other states, great. Organize a protest. But don't give The Church at Planned Parenthood more publicity and exposure by counter-protesting.
This happens to be what Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, the region that includes Salem's clinic, wants: no counter-protests. In fact, Planned Parenthood doesn't even want any supportive protests at their health centers. See:
So hopefully people in Salem who want to support Planned Parenthood will do as Planned Parenthood asks and not engage in any additional protests or counter-protests at the local health center.
It's bad enough when people using the health center have to make their way past a protest. It's worse when there's a battle going on between protesters and counter-protesters.
Salem City Manager Steve Powers spoke about this in a memo that was shared on Facebook today. Powers said:
The TCAPP group typically does not block sidewalks and remains peaceful. No reports have been received of persons being unable to access services at Planned Parenthood. Various groups have peacefully protested or gathered without permits near Planned Parenthood for years without the need for Salem Police involvement. The protests have escalated when large numbers of people join in support or to counter protest. The demonstrations become problematic when persons intent on harm join the crowd.