Pro-life students from California State University, Sacramento claim they were booted from an art gallery on Saturday when a staffer saw their pro-life signs from the Walk for Life earlier that day. An angry staffer chased after the students as they left, yelling at them and making lewd gestures.
Students caught the tail end of the altercation on video.
“Just an FYI, we’re getting kicked out because we’re pro-life,” an unidentified female student says in the video, as the students left the gallery.
“Yeah, right, sure, yeah,” an angry staffer says, chasing the students. “I am pro-life. I am pro-choice. You are pro-death!”
As the students walk out the door, the female student says, “Okay, God bless you. Have a good one, ma’am!”
One staffer closes the door, and the irate staffer glares through the window, making an obscene gesture. Her co-worker attempts to restrain her, but she breaks through and chases after the students.
“You don’t care! You don’t care about them unless they’re a fetus!” the irate woman yells, wagging her finger at the students. As the students flee the scene, she switches gears saying, “I love you, too.”
The students told NBC Bay Area they entered the Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery around 9:15 p.m. Then a woman working at the gallery asked if they were part of the pro-life march and they said yes. She told them to leave.
The gallery’s owner, David Schach, apologized to the students. “We respect your rights, we respect your views, and I apologize,” he said.
Even so, Schach told NBC Bay Area that the students were not asked to leave due to their political views. “We were just trying to close the doors,” he said. “It was late in the evening around 9:15-9:30. I’m sorry this happened to you. We were not trying to force you to leave or be mean to you.”
According to Facebook and Google, however, the gallery is open until 10 p.m. West Coast time.
Student Carmen Perez told Students for Life that the group got kicked out of the gallery when a staffer glimpsed a student’s “I Am the Pro-Life Generation” sign.
The pro-abortion employee, seen on the video, began berating her and then went to the back of the gallery, approaching other students to ask if they also were anti-abortion, which the students said, lead to a tirade from the employee about how she had gone to Planned Parenthood herself, before kicking all of them out of the gallery — those with signs and those without who acknowledged their pro-life views.
The students released a statement acknowledging the owner’s apology but insisting the employees had discriminated against them.
“We were peaceful and we respectfully left even though we were treated disrespectfully. This apology does not acknowledge what happened to us as Profile [sic] advocates from California who were in San Francisco utilizing our constitutional right to free speech,” the students said.
They set the record straight, insisting on a few central points: “We did NOT walk into the gallery while employees were closing the gallery. … We did NOT hesitate to leave when the second employee yelled at us to leave, after she asked us if we were with ‘those anti-abortion’ supporters.”
“We did NOT threaten the second employee even though she was yelling at us and flipped us off when we were already outside the gallery,” the students wrote. “She then came outside to continue yelling as another employee tried to restrain her.” When the irate staffer got free and lunged toward a man in the group, “we were afraid she would assault him.”
“Never in our lives as prolife [sic] advocates have we ever experienced such fear, disrespect and hostility for our political and religious beliefs,” the students wrote. “We send the owner and the employee love and prayers and hope that this was a one-time event and that such discrimination will never happen again on their business premises. We were taught to give respect and that is what we gave the employees at the gallery.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, compared this event to the witch hunt against Covington Catholic High School students. “This incident in the Dennis Rae Art Gallery in which students just holding Students for Life signs were verbally attacked and thrown out of business illustrates a broader trend,” she argued.
“We are seeing adults use their experience and authority to harass students and suppress their free-speech rights,” Hawkins said. “This is what happened when professional activist Nathan Phillips approached high school junior Nick Sandmann from Covington Catholic and now in a San Francisco art gallery after a peaceful Walk for Life.”
“Rather than training up the next generation or welcoming them to participate in politics and public conversations, pro-abortion adults now seem to use their power against peaceful students who are voicing their support for mothers and their pre-born infants,” Hawkins concluded.
Anger and threats against pro-life activists have arguably increased in recent years. Last year, death threats sent PJ Media’s Denise McAllister into hiding after she posted a pro-life tweet. At the first Women’s March, one pro-life woman heard others yell at her that they “hope you get raped.”
Whether or not this marks a national trend, this event at the Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery should disturb America’s conscience. The owner should get to the bottom of the issue with his staffers and make a further statement about the issue. His apology was a good first step, but it seems the students need to hear a more compelling admission of guilt — if not from him, then from the woman who chased them out.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.