MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — Eight adults and four children were charged with trespassing after police said they entered the Providence Medical Pavilion in Mt. Juliet Friday morning and refused to leave amid an anti-abortion demonstration.
Captain Tyler Chandler with the Mt. Juliet Police Department said officers received a call around 8 a.m. of 22 protesters inside the abortion clinic that operates out of the medical building on Crossings Circle, which is off South Mt. Juliet Road near Interstate 40.
The demonstrators, which included a mix of adults and children, sat down inside and were told to leave but refused, Chandler explained during a news briefing.
When officers arrived, Captain Chandler said they gave the demonstrators multiple warnings to leave the facility or they would be arrested. He said some of the protesters left, but eight adults and four children remained, passing out fliers that stated they had already been arrested.
“It appears this group showed up today with the intent of being arrested by our department in regards to their protest of the activity taking place at the Providence Medical Pavilion,” Chandler explained.
After being given additional warnings, Captain Chandler said police arrested eight adults on trespassing charges, four of which were also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The four children, all in their early teens, were charged with trespassing and issued juvenile citations, he added.
Police said peaceful, anti-abortion demonstrations have previously taken place outside of the medical building, but this was the first time the protesters had entered the facility and refused to leave.
Melissa Grant, the Chief Operating Officer of carafem, the owners of the reproductive health clinic inside the Providence Medical Pavilion, released a statement to News 2 Friday afternoon:
“At carafem, we fervently believe that every person should have access to a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including safe compassionate abortion care in order to make their own decisions about their lives, families, and futures without interference, shame or coercion. We will always stand by our clients and staff and want to assure the Nashville community that we are not going anywhere.
Today, a group of anti-abortion extremists trespassed inside a medical office building and formed a blockade outside the office door of carafem’s Mt. Juliet, Tennessee health center. At this time, the staff and patients inside the building are safe — but make no mistake, blocking the entrance into or out of any business is unconscionable — it is harassment, it is illegal and it will not be tolerated at carafem—not today, not any day.
No one should be blocked from getting health care or be intimidated when they seek to enter a small business of any kind. No one should experience intrusion or harassment. The tactics used by the anti-abortion extremists right here in Nashville and across the country are intended to shame, frighten, and prevent people from obtaining the legal goods and services that they want and need.
Our doors will continue to remain open for the city of Mt. Juliet and surrounding communities, despite opposition, to protect the sexual and reproductive health rights of all people.”