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the Body Politic
Vol. 4, No. 3 - March 1994, Page 11
Copyright © 1994, 1998 by the Body Politic Inc.

Aware Woman Launched to Supreme Court

By Anne Bower

Since we first interviewed Ms. Windle, there has been a very exciting development for the Aware Woman Center. The injunction they obtained against anti-choice activity will be reviewed by the Supreme Court this year. In a second interview, Ms. Windle tells the story of the battle she had to get that injunction and her frustration with the American justice system.

Q: Patricia, would you set the stage and tell people how you got your injunction and what it means?

A: Having been through court proceedings before, I knew the tremendous financial and emotional toll court takes on one. So, I avoided going to court.
Q: Patricia, you certainly don't mince any words.

A: No ma'am. It's too late now. I'm not 24. I've had death threats leveled on me and on my children and grandchildren. How the hell could I let these people cow me?

However, when Operation Rescue became such a rapacious factor in our lives, in 1989 and 90, I tried to put together a state-wide battery of pro-bono attorneys. I was unsuccessful at every turn. My quest wasn't just to recruit pro-bono attorneys for Aware Woman. I wanted to craft the "Big Suit" strategy. If we got one good injunction, we could cookie-cutter it for the other clinics who are members of the Florida Abortion Council. At one point, I had eight lawyers who were interested, but that group lost leadership. All of a sudden, OR announced that during October of '91 they were going to do a major targeting in Florida.

Q: Right on the heels of the "Summer of Mercy" in Wichita.

A: Yes. I went to my FLAC colleagues, and out of our coffers we took money to pay for part of an injunction for two counties, Orange and Osceola. The judge eventually gave us an injunction for one county, but we were left having to go to judges in each county for injunctive relief. At one point we were racing down the highway at 80 miles an hour to get to the judge before court closed.

The lawyer who got us that first injunction is Jerry Blair, known for helping the young boy get divorced from his parents. The first injunction was hurriedly crafted, based on others that had been obtained around the nation. I want the readers to understand that these restraints on civil disobedience are used in other circumstances and commonly called" "time/distance/place/manner".

We were elated because we thought this would be a deterrent to the scope of harassment activities. There have been up to 250 blockaders on our property at one time. Now the bad news. The Melbourne police chose to totally ignore our injunction. They provided us no help. The American police can simply decide not to enforce something if they want to. They would not keep protesters out of our drive way, or prevent cars being blocked. The police did nothing to get the antis to modify their behavior, even when they were perched on ladders yelling into our recovery room area.

To make matters worse, the police threatened us. One of my defenders was told by a policeman, "If you raise your voice to me one more time, I'll put you in handcuffs." Protestors were able to yell loud enough to be heard 600 feet away, yet the police did nothing to enforce the injunction.

Q: What did you do next?

A: When OR announced in September of '92, that it would start IMPACT Team training in Florida in January '93, I was increasingly frantic. OR had threatened to make our life a living hell and they were succeeding. Then came Ellie Smeal. She cobbled together the legal team that in 1993 gave me what I had been trying to do all along. This was a miracle in our lives. Ellie did this in a matter of hours.

The Fund for the Feminist Majority was helping with clinic defense, but Ellie asked me, what can we really do to help clinics? In the first few months of 1993, I started analyzing the situation and writing a "bill of particulars". The Fund lawyers told me they had been to many clinics but they had never seen one where it was as close to mob violence as here in Florida. They were really concerned and made legal work for us a top priority. All this came to a head in early March.

I went to Washington DC on March 4 met with Ellie and did a national press conference the next day. Then we flew back to Florida and confronted Randall Terry on the sidewalk. Ellie's last words to me were, "Write down for me what you decided you and the other clinics around the nation need." That was Saturday. I worked Sunday and Monday to put this together.

On Tuesday, I Federal Expressed this report to her. It arrived on her desk two hours after David Gunn was murdered. Number 10 in this bill of particulars said,

"We understand clearly that one or more of us is going to be assassinated during the course of the next few months because of the viscousness we see every day."

Q: Did the murder of Dr. Gunn mobilize anyone to action?

A: The next day, Ellie called Kathy Patrick, a lawyer from Texas who got on a plane, flew to the clinic, and sat at our computer drawing up the injunction that is making its way to the Supreme Court.

This was one of the most stunning episodes of my life. I can't bring words to describe the fear, the desperation, the electricity of getting to court to get that injunction.

Since then, the Melbourne police have decided to also not enforce this injunction. They pretend to the public they are enforcing it, but they are totally lying.

Q: Do you have any of that charge documented?

A: Oh, Yes. Video tape, affidavits, still pictures. We have filed with the federal Housing and Urban Development Department to remove block grant funds from Melbourne because of this. Last month, I spoke to Melbourne city council and told them how awful I thought this was. The mayor said, "The judge didn't say we had to enforce the injunction. We're a little town. We have home rule. We can do what we please."

I begged the city council to direct the police to enforce the injunction. I told them that people who would issue death threats against children were beneath contempt. All I wanted was for Melbourne to give me a city representative for a few hours every three months to be brought up to date on the nature of the extortion. The council totally refused, and voted 5-2 against asking the police to enforce the injunction.

Q: Even after they knew the injunction was going to the Supreme Court?

A: Two weeks ago, the police took two and a half hours to ask Bruce Cadle and fifty hooligans to move from the barrier zone. This is timely enforcement? Oh, I don't think so.

Q: Patricia, what's driving OR?

A: I think the anti-abortion movement as we know it is undergoing a series of convulsive seizures to try to hold on. They are changing tactics and modifying behaviors. Good police forces and municipalities bring about this change. But OR is floundering. I'm happy they are moving national headquarters out of Melbourne because I think this shows they have failed to shut us down these last five years.

Q: But why do the police seem to be cooperating?

A: Thank you for asking that. Around the nation, OR has threatened cities with their frivolous law suits. They extorted money from Fargo, North Dakota by threatening law suits. OR is holding some communities around the nation hostage.

Q: Is that their hold on Melbourne?

A: I have no doubt in this world that is the problem. A number of cops have said to me, "we're afraid of them." A senior police officer said to me, "I am afraid. They have been following me."

It's so bad that when we identified this we gave it a name -- collateral harassment and collateral extortion. I have newspapers who will no longer cover our story because they have fallen victim to OR. Our local paper is terrified of frivolous law suits. It is clear to me, that these anti-abortion leaders, the authors of the "Master Plan", have access to a battery of attorneys, as well as extortionist, that threaten suits across the nation. Jay Sekulow is like a queen ant, with a nest of lawyer ants. If they succeed in defeating abortion, the theocracy looms.

I want nothing more than enough money to start an adequate investigative process. I don't think the Justice Department or the FBI will do their job. I believe that the antis have a strangle hold on a number of cities and to prove this, I have worked unstintingly. I'm almost 60 years old, and I've been working 100 work weeks because I don't think the professional investigators will do their job.

Q: Why don't you trust "the system"?

A: Professionals won't solve this because of personal cowardice, professional cowardice, personal religious bias, or professional ambition. Then there's incompetence. From the beginning of our involvement with the Justice Department and the FBI, I've seen nothing that would indicate these are professionals who really care. They don't ask the right questions. They don't manifest the curiosity a good detective should. And then they try to treat me as a "little lady". They've done everything but pat me on the head like I was a puppy dog. The next cop at any level who says to me, "Now, this isn't Hollywood," is going get puked on. And you can print that!

Q: I will!

A: I know what a good police effort constitutes and the only way we're going to get it is if we do the work ourselves. If I could send a message to the anonymous donor who set up the reward fund to help solve clinic bombings, I would ask for $100,000 to help build the case for conspiracy that I know exists. This the Justice Department couldn't ignore.

Q: Well, your immediate concern now is still your injunction which is headed to the Supreme Court. When did you get the word on this?

A: At 4:15 the afternoon of January 21. I got the word from a reporter who assumed I already knew, and about 10 sentences into the conversation he said, "My God, you don't know what I'm talking about, do you?" It ended up on the front page of the Miami Herald that I was "breathless". I wasn't breathless, I was hyperventilating.

Q: What is the current timetable for this case?

A: The last of the briefs are due Friday, April 15. We are predicting the oral arguments will be scheduled somewhere in April 25-27. It is possible, that because this case is being viewed as "weighty", it might be held for reargument and we wouldn't have a decision by July.

Q: Is your injunction in effect while this is being argued?

A: Absolutely, but as I said, the city is dodging this because of grotesque cowardice and misfeasance and malfeasance.

Q: Patricia, you certainly don't mince any words.

A: No ma'am. It's too late now. I'm not 24. I've had death threats leveled on me and on my children and grandchildren. How the hell could I let these people cow me?

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