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Anti-choice protestors stir trouble in Mt. Juliet

·4 min read

Aug. 6—The FBI and district attorney's office are reviewing evidence of an incident that recently took place in Mt. Juliet involving anti-choice protestors at a health facility in Mt. Juliet.

Three individuals, initially involved in a demonstration at Carafem Health Center, located at 5002 Crossing Circle in Mt. Juliet, were arrested in Nashville for disrupting Planned Parenthood after Mt. Juliet Police Department personnel forced them out of the area.

The demonstration began with routine briefings between law enforcement and demonstrators from Operation Save America (OSA), an anti-choice group. It would take a turn on the third day of protests.

Mt. Juliet Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Mullins met with Operation Save America leadership members Chet Gallagher and Bo Linam to discuss the group's plans to host its national conference in the area. The group's stated mission is to "stop abortions in America."

According to an incident after action report released by the Mt. Juliet Police Department, Gallagher and Linam expressed intent to protest near the Carafem Health Center, as well as the knowledge that there would be an organization called Jezebel's Revenge would be counter-protesting.

The Mt. Juliet Police Department reportedly told Gallagher and Linam that they were not to step foot on the health center's property and should not be in the roadways when handing out literature. Mullins attended a meeting held by OSA in Smyrna on July 25 and verified that expectations were understood.

The latest demonstration is not the first time OSA has protested at this site. According to the Mt. Juliet Police Department, it has been spotted twice during the last couple of years. One of those occasions resulted in multiple people being arrested for trespassing after group members unlawfully entered the health center.

Given the probability that a repeat performance could be underway, the Mt. Juliet Police Department decided to maintain a hidden presence at the demonstration that was to take place on July 26.

Mullins and additional MJPD personnel were parked nearby at 7 a.m. on July 26, with plans to monitor and observe unless things started to boil over.

About an hour later, OSA members began showing up. Not long after, counter-protestors also arrived. Mullins introduced himself to both organizations' leadership and reiterated the expectations of a peaceful and lawful protest. Gallagher was confirmed as the point of contact for OSA, and a woman named Kim Gibson was determined to be the contact for the counter-protestors.

Members of both organizations were left at the health center after an OSA contingency moved toward the street to hand out literature, drawing Mt. Juliet Police Department resources with them. That is when things took a turn. OSA members moved toward the health center's door, stating that they had "evidence that Carafem (Health Center) was illegally conducting abortions."

Mullins informed them that he would look into it. Although 10-20 male members of OSA stopped at the front door, Mt. Juliet Police Department video did not reveal any attempts to obstruct patients from entering the health center.

Mullins attempted to contact District Attorney Jason Lawson for guidance about the claims of unlawful abortions being conducted. Lawson ultimately returned with guidance that Tennessee's trigger law, which bans abortions, had not gone into effect. According to the report, OSA President Jason Storm told Mullins he had men willing to go in and stop the killing of children.

The report states that Mullins told them such action would be deemed unlawful.

OSA protestors dispersed around 1:15 p.m., but the Mt. Juliet Police Department decided to maintain a presence for the remainder of the week. The following day, members from both organizations returned to the site, but the Mt. Juliet Police Department's presence was terminated at 11 a.m. when demonstrators left the area.

The next day, police returned at 7 a.m. to monitor as the day's events unfolded. Around 11:23 a.m., a neighboring office called Mullins to the second floor of the building as "three subjects engaged in a very loud conversation with building security in the building hallway outside the entrance of Carafem."

The three individuals were not observed at previous demonstrations by law enforcement. They were escorted off the property but reportedly "left very loudly." Security informed Mullins that those three individuals were arrested shortly afterward at the Planned Parenthood site in Nashville.

In a video obtained by the Mt. Juliet Police Department, the individuals were visibly seen "making threats directly at Carafem and a general threat for the entire building."

FBI agent Mark Shafer and Lawson were both sent the video for review. According to the Mt. Juliet Police Department, both are still being reviewed.

The next day was uneventful, with only one protestor showing up.