Police arrested four men today who were protesting outside of an abortion clinic and attempting to speak with family members.

In a Facebook Live video posted by the Charlotte-based anti-abortion group Love Life, a man can be heard saying, “Hey guys, we’re in Greensboro right now. We were in Charlotte earlier this morning. And we got a report that in Greensboro, the police have pushed against people being out here to pray, even though we’re doing social distancing. So, we just came up here because they basically they ran off the prayer walkers. They ran off the sidewalk counselors. And the abortion center remains open.”

Three minutes later, the video shows an encounter with two Greensboro police officers outside of A Woman’s Choice, the abortion clinic, on Randleman Road.

“I’m gonna tell you now: You need to return to your vehicles,” Lt. DW Knott says. “You’ve got a choice now to make. You can choose to comply with what I’m telling you, or you’re going to be charged…. Right now, I am giving you a command to leave this location.”

“We must obey the rule of God, and not of man,” an unidentified protester responds.

After Knott asks him if he’s going to comply, another protester responds that he is going to stay where he is “pursuant” to the Guilford County stay-at-home order.

“Sir, let me have your ID, please,” Knott says, “and I want you to sit on the curb.”

Another protester says, “I don’t mean any disrespect.”

A second officer says, “Well, y’all are disrespecting us by doing this.”

Sitting on the curb, one of the protesters says, “You want to do this. I don’t want to do this. You desire this. You are the one pushing this. I’m saying, ‘Let’s talk about it.’ I’m saying, ‘At least talk to your city council about it, and your lawyer.’ You don’t want to do that.”

One of the men who was arrested is Justin Reeder, the founder of Love Life USA, according a press release issued by the NC Values Coalition, a Christian right organization based in Charlotte. The 34-year-old Reeder, who is a resident of Huntersville, has been charged with violating the stay-at-home order and resisting, delaying and obstructing a public officer.

Also arrested and charged with violating the stay-at-home order were Jason Oesterreich, 42, of Locust; Carl Ubinas, 52, of Mooresville; and Isaiah Burner, 23, of Statesville. Oesterreich and Ubinas were also charged with resisting, delaying and obstructive a public officer.

Ron Glenn, the public information officer for the Greensboro Police Department, said that any person who is outside of their home and is not covered by an exception in the order, such as essential work activity or essential travel, can be found in violation of the order. He added that violating the stay-at-home order is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Glenn said these are the first arrests made by Greensboro police for violating the stay-at-home order. He could not identify the other two men who were arrested.

The NC Values Coalition condemned the arrests.

“The North Carolina Values condemns the actions of Greensboro police for arresting Christians who peacefully and legally pray and exercise their religious rights on sidewalk,” said Jim Quick, the state director of grassroots and media. “Not even in communist China would police arrest three men for walking and praying on the street. Even during a fight against a virus, Americans have constitutional rights to pray and exercise religious freedoms.”

A months long investigation by TCB from October found that Love Life, along with other local crisis pregnancy centers, repeatedly gather at the local abortion clinic, the only one in Greensboro, to protest. Crisis pregnancy centers are typically faith-based organizations whose sole goal is to dissuade people from getting abortions, often by protesting right next to clinics and using false-advertising tactics.

Protesters with Love Life — a religious organization that works to mobilize churches in Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte and New York City — gather at A Woman’s Choice every weekend and often times on weekdays to oppose abortion. While many protesters attempt to hand out pamphlets to patients as they drive into the parking lot, other, more belligerent protesters use microphones to speak or shout directly at patients as they walk through the doors.

Love Life, whose protesters usually wear teal shirts, congregate at the clinic in large numbers throughout the year, especially during their “40 Days for Life” events in which close to 100 people gather to pray and sing next to the clinic.

To ensure that patients are able to access the clinic safely, the clinic has its own volunteers, also known as escorts, who help shield the patients from the protesters and walk them from their cars to the clinic.

“You just have to be extremely vigilant,” said one volunteer during TCB‘s October investigation.

To read TCB’s investigation on what abortion access looks like in Greensboro click here.

Sayaka Matsuoka contributed to this story.

This story originally stated that three men were arrested. It has been updated to reflect the accurate number.

Dozens of Love Life protesters gather on a Saturday morning to pray and sing near the abortion clinic in Greensboro. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

22 COMMENTS

  1. This doesn’t sound like America anymore. It sounds like a communist nation. This healthcare “order” is nothing but socialism in it’s purest vilest form.

  2. If you’re going to claim “false advertising tactics” in your article, you should cite what those tactics are. That sounds like an OPINION. Last I read the stay at home order allowed religious gatherings of less than ten as long as social distancing was adhered to. Sounds like it was here and the cops were being jerks, but this article also sounds very biased.

  3. Jordan Green, Help Pregnancy Centers do NOT have a “sole goal is to dissuade people from getting abortions, often by protesting right next to clinics and using false-advertising tactics.” That is absurd. I work at a Help Pregnancy Center in Monroe, NC, a vast majority of our visitors are women either pregnant or with young children or families with young children seeking help for their child and family. Most do not even have abortion on their mind, but those who do are shown an ultrasound of their child, which often, thank God, causes them to realize that the false and lying tactics used by the abortion clinic that the live baby is nothing more than tissue, is in fact a real live human being. The Help Centers, funded by organizations such as Love Life and 1000’s of churches provide clothes, diapers, baby food, money, parenting training, and a wide variety of other things to help them with their baby, all for free. Please get your facts straight before reporting so irresponsibly.

  4. I am a law abiding citizen, but these officers were outta line. They should be fired and banned from serving in Law Enforcement ever again…

  5. This is Greensboro .. where right is wrong and wrong is right .. if you want to live in a southern city that has a moral conscience this is not the city … Greenville South Carolina is a better choice .. northerners I know who want to move away from northern politics will be much happier Greenville , and quite frankly South instead of North Carolina .. ( Nikki Haley / Roy Cooper ) ….

  6. 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)
    14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

    further proof we are a divided country. i live in amarillo, tx and like the rest of the country, the news is all about the flu. nothing said of the Bush administration convicted of crime against humanity for depleted uranium. million deaths and 71000 americans who were in the middle east. information is contradictory, truth is absent.

  7. Perhaps the “reporter” should go back to journalism school to find out how to write an article based on facts and not personal opinion. Very biased article against right-to-lifers, while the abortion center is allowed to remain open and spread the virus around among patients and clinic personnel. Next time, perhaps the “reporter” could do an in-depth article on how the clinic is putting the city at risk at this time. That would be a lot more useful.

  8. These officers are just puppets and do what they are told or suffer the conciquences. Some of them are believers so don’t condemn them, blame their superiors i.e. city council and right to the top, the mayor.

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