A large anti-abortion march took place in front of an east Charlotte women's clinic Saturday. The demonstration was organized by a group called Love Life Charlotte, and occurred outside A Preferred Women's Health Clinic.
The clinic is no stranger to these marches, which have been happening weekly for the last ten months. But Saturday’s was one of the largest, with many of the participants coming from the Charlotte region and some traveling from farther away.
Rachel Cisnernos, who drove two hours from Lenoir, NC, helped shuttle participants from the parking lot to the event on Latrobe Drive.
"There's people here from everywhere - New York, Illinois, Ohio," Cisnernos said, “It's just an amazing, amazing time for the Lord, and it’s a blessing to be a part of [this].”
The event drew a sizeable crowd and the city provided dozens of police officers on bikes, motorcycles, golf carts, and on foot. Cones were placed in the street and metal barriers were arranged in front of the clinic to allow traffic to flow unimpeded. CMPD says two demonstrators were cited for interfering with lawful assembly.
At least five city council members were present, including Braxton Winston, Julie Eiselt, Lawana Mayfield, Justin Harlow, and Larken Egleston. Eiselt said she'd like the city to have more conversations about how to best allocate resources, including police officers, near the clinic in the future.
Outside the clinic, a tall, black tarp had been constructed as a wall between the street and the clinic. And around 60 volunteer escorts clad in pink vests held umbrellas and chanted for the marchers to go away. Standing among them was the clinic's director Calla Hales.
"We're not going to let anyone impact our ability to provide care, and that's my priority," Hales said.
The clinic had doubled its usual number of volunteer escorts to help guide patients to the clinic’s parking lot, and from their cars to the clinic’s front door. Many of the clinic's patients had been scheduled to come earlier in the day to avoid the crowds
The clinic has been the scene of a long-running feud between anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights groups, most recently centered around whether anti-abortion groups can park ultrasound buses in front of the clinic. In April, the city said it would allow the groups to continue parking on the street.
"The city of Charlotte must act to protect patient access and must never again issue parade or sound permits in front of abortion clinics," said Jen Ferris with Progress North Carolina in a statement released later in the day.