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Operation Rescue Meeting Blasted by Drums, Horns

May 19, 1993|MATT LAIT and WILLSON CUMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

ANAHEIM — About 35 abortion rights advocates carrying drums, air horns and tambourines chanted and marched outside a church Tuesday night where members of Operation Rescue had gathered to plan summer demonstrations on abortion clinics.

Members of the Women's Action Coalition from Los Angeles and Orange counties tried to disrupt the meeting, held at the Cornerstone Church on Red Gun Street, by yelling through bullhorns.

"There's no way they could be having a really successful meeting in there right now," said Michele Prince, a spokeswoman for WAC. "We're making a lot of noise."

However, the protest outside could be heard only faintly when the door would open. Otherwise, the protesters had no effect on the meeting.

Inside the church, the Rev. Keith Tucci, national director of Operation Rescue, exhorted a group of about 200 to join a seven-city campaign beginning July 9 to close abortion clinics. The other cities are San Jose, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Jackson, Miss., Melbourne, Fla., and Dallas.

"It's going to be like Wichita happening in seven different places all at the same time," Tucci said.

A 46-day offensive in Wichita in the summer of 1991 resulted in 2,600 arrests.

Sue Finn, a spokeswoman for Operation Rescue, said the seven-city campaign would be one week of rallies, sit-ins and protests "to keep the doors closed so we can intervene and offer help to the women."

Many of the protesters Tuesday night had bull's-eyes tacked to their backs in memory of Dr. David Gunn, who was killed on March 15 during an abortion protest in Pensacola, Fla. They also carried placards reading, "Operation Rescue = Fundamentalist Christian Terrorists."

"The key message here is that these are not nice Christians. These are Christian terrorists," Prince said.

Prince, 26, of Los Angeles, said that Operation Rescue is "hiding behind the church" and that the main objective of her group was to disrupt the meeting inside.

About half a dozen security guards lined the driveway to ensure that the protesters didn't enter the church, and police arrived about 10 minutes after the 7:30 p.m. protest began.

Some protesters aimed megaphones in guards' faces and yelled, "Pray, you'll need it; your cause has been defeated." The guards pushed the horns out of their faces and were shouted at by the protesters.

At one point, several people came out of the church and displayed pictures of aborted fetuses to the protesters who began chanting, "Fake, fake."

The Rev. Rich Danna of the Cornerstone Church asked the police to stop the protest, but Anaheim Police Sgt. Greg Mattis told him that they weren't breaking the law. A compromise was reached, and the protesters agreed to stop blowing their air horns.

The members of Operation Rescue eventually left the meeting without confrontation with the protesters outside.

After the meeting, Tucci infuriated protesters when he stood next to them, smiled and posed for a photo for Operation Rescue cameras.

Times staff writer Greg Hernandez contributed to this story.

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