A demonstration outside the Walnut Creek Planned Parenthood took a violent turn when armed security guards hired by anti-abortion activists pepper-sprayed counter protesters Tuesday.
The actions were caught on camera and now Planned Parenthood is demanding the city of Walnut Creek take action.
They say protesters have been demonstrating outside this facility for years. But they say things reached a whole new and dangerous level Tuesday morning.
“You can’t tell us not to walk on the sidewalk, you know that’s against the law,” said a counter protestors as anti-abortion demonstrators brought with them four armed guards who appeared to try to block the sidewalk.
The guards first pepper-sprayed a photographer who came to document the demonstration.
“This is very shocking, very inappropriate, this isn’t ok,” said photographer Trevor Hernich.
Then the guard used it again an three abortion rights activists, who insisted they too had a right to use the sidewalk.
“It was very painful, very shocking and I’m really angry. And I want someone to be held responsible for this,” said Lacey Brown, abortion rights activist.
The anti-abortion folks insist they’re the peaceful ones and need protection.
“They are aggressive they get in people’s faces, smoke marijuana and blow it in people’s faces,” said Jim Crawley, anti-abortion activist.
But the guards not only pepper sprayed the counter protestors, one reached for his gun.
“It’s unacceptable,this is absolutely unacceptable,” said Gilda Gonzales from Planned Parenthood of Northern California. “It’s now a real crisis here in Walnut Creek.”
The CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern California says the escalation in actions is alarming. She fears patients and staff are in danger as the political climate heats up.
“I think the people who oppose us are emboldened from he highest levels of elected offices and now the confirmation of the new Supreme Court Justice,” said Gonzales. “When it begins to be violent and outright chaos then something’s gone really wrong.”
Both sides appear intent on standing their ground. Walnut Creek police declined to arrest or cite anyone. They’re investigating and say they’ll submit their reports to the District Attorney.
“Please stay peaceful. Please exercise your First Amendment right to protest but please don’t block sidewalks and make it difficult for others to express their First Amendment rights,” said Sargent Ryan Hobbs from the Walnut Creek Police Department.”