Michelle Davis, Co-founder Feminist Flag Corps
Today is the anniversary of Roe v Wade, I felt especially honored to be escorting patients at the clinic.
A red pickup truck slowly crawled down the street in front of the clinic. I’m familiar with the slowdown, odds were, it was a patient looking for the clinic address or getting dropped off for an appointment.
Instead of pulling up to the curb to drop-off or moving forward to find a spot, the pickup came to a stop in the middle of the three eastbound lanes directly in front of the clinic, parked and threw their hazards on.
It was then I noticed that there was no passenger in the truck, just the driver, a man.
Maybe he had a question? Where could he wait while the patient he was accompanying was inside? Would he be towed if he parked in the lot behind the building?
Even though parking in this area can be confusing, most people would have still pulled up to the curb if they had a question.
The man did not have a question. He didn’t roll down his passenger window, he didn’t wave me over, he didn’t even make eye contact.
He quickly departed the driver’s seat and shut the door.
At this point an annoyed line of cars had stacked up behind him, as he had parked in the middle lane. The curb lane was lined with parked vehicles, so traffic had to divert to the left lane to pass the man.
The man didn’t say anything. He went directly to the rear driver’s side door of the truck cab, opened it and begin rummaging for something on the floor.
This was when my thinking shifted
Thoughts race through my head.
Where I will run, where is my fellow escort, the support person with the pink and purple coat is still smoking on the side of the building, the patient and her mother waiting in their car, and yes, and the two antis waiting to harass patients are on the sidewalk
Don’t run in a straight line, I know that from training. Zigzag. I look down at the bullseye I’m wearing, my neon green clinic escort vest. I wonder if the man has already noticed it.
My car is right there. But so is the man. If things got crazy, I’d fumble my keys, I know I would.
The moment is long enough that I wonder if I’ll regret not running. Am I putting my discomfort at the idea of violating an arbitrary social norm ahead of my concern for my personal safety?
I stood there. I didn’t do anything profound. No flight. No fight. I watched the man retrieve jumper cables and pop the hood of a patient’s car. I don’t think I even realized what I’d been trying to process until I had time to reflect on it later, there was harassment to be buffered, patients to walk in.
When a man stops his truck in the middle of the road in front of an abortion clinic and jumps out, the significance of this day becomes a possible motivating factor for violence in a space that is already historically less safe than others. Today is the anniversary of Roe v Wade. It’s a day of complicated gratitude and reflection and a lot of looking forward at the massive amount of work that still needs to be done.
January 22, 2018