Gribbin said that the man and the woman walked away from the incident before the police responded to the scene. He told CNA he followed them at a safe distance so he could point them out when the police arrived. The police interviewed both suspects.
Bukovinac added that the responding officers initially told her that the police would not press charges because the confrontation was mutual “as if we consented to being assaulted.” She and Gribbin were ultimately contacted by detectives who are investigating the incident, and she said she was assured “there would be consequences.”
Bukovinac added that she believes the police only decided to take the investigation seriously because the incident was shared online. She said the police department’s initial reluctance to investigate reveals an “unequal application of the law.”
A spokesperson for Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department confirmed with CNA that detectives are investigating the incident.
Emergency medical technicians were called to the scene for Gribbin, but he said he did not need to go to the hospital. He said he had bruising on his rib cage area and the side of his body that was punched and feels sore. He said he also skinned his knees and one knee was bleeding. Medical examiners did not find any other injuries.
A pattern of hostility
This isn’t the first time Gribbin was punched for engaging in pro-life activism outside of the Washington, D.C., Planned Parenthood clinic. In late 2019, a man took chalk from Gribbin when he was writing on the sidewalk near the abortion facility. Gribbin tried to prevent the man from fleeing the scene, at which point the man punched him in the head and face.
“A pro-choice man stole the chalk that I was using to write pro-life messages and when I confronted him, he became violent and tackled me and punched me,” Gribbin said.
“Ultimately, the police investigated the situation and though the investigator wanted to get an arrest warrant, the U.S. prosecutor refused to press charges.”
Gribbin, who engages in sidewalk counseling most Saturday mornings to offer life-affirming resources to women and to pray, said verbal altercations and threats are common.
“We get a lot of verbal attacks, in some cases threats, and we definitely face a lot of abuse from passersby,” Gribbin added.
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Gribbin also noted that the Planned Parenthood escorts, who volunteer to escort people into the abortion facility, “physically put themselves between us and the people we’re trying to offer information to” and “ridicule and deride us.”
“The escorts are totally complicit,” Bukovinac said.
Bukovinac often joins the other pro-life sidewalk counselors on Fridays and Saturdays because that’s when the escorts are there. She said she engages in some sidewalk counseling but also defends counselors from verbal attacks and threats.
“[I] stand up and defend our community as they defend the babies,” Bukovinac added.
She said most of the incidents are verbal confrontations or threats.
Less than two months ago, on May 26, two elderly pro-life activists were allegedly assaulted outside of a Planned Parenthood facility in Baltimore. In this incident, both men were knocked unconscious for a brief period and one of the men required multiple surgeries.