Two activists have been indicted for vandalizing pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida as pro-life advocates continue to raise concerns about an inadequate response to the rash of pro-abortion violence from federal law enforcement.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of two pro-abortion activists Tuesday in connection with the vandalism of three pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida.
A grand jury based in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida indicted Caleb Freestone, 27, and Amber Smith-Stewart, 23, for engaging "in a conspiracy to prevent employees of reproductive health services facilities from providing those services."
The indictment accuses the defendants of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act by "using threats of force to intimidate and interfere with the employees of a reproductive health services facility in Winter Haven because those employees were providing or seeking to provide reproductive health services" as well as "intentionally damaging and destroying the facility's property because the facility provides reproductive health services." If convicted, they face up to 12 years in prison and fines of up to $350,000.
According to the DOJ, the indictment alleges that the two defendants, in addition to other "co-conspirators," spray-painted graffiti on the side featuring phrases such as "if abortions aren't safe than [sic] neither are you," "YOUR TIME IS UP!!," "WE'RE COMING FOR U" and "We are everywhere" on the side of the facility.
While the statement did not mention the facility by name, LifeChoice Pregnancy Center in Winter Haven posted pictures of vandalism it sustained, which included graffiti proclaiming such phrases, in a June 26 Facebook post. The indictment also holds Freestone and Smith-Stewart responsible for defacing similar facilities in Hollywood and Hialeah, two cities in South Florida.
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, an EWTN radio host and member of the Florida State Board of Education, posted a picture on social media of vandalism at the South Broward Pregnancy Help Center in Hollywood.
Phrases emblazoned on the wall of the facility include "if abortions aren't safe then neither are you" and "Jane's Revenge," suggesting involvement with a group that has claimed responsibility for multiple instances of pro-abortion vandalism over the past several months.
The Pregnancy Care Center at which I volunteer as a radiologist was vandalized. Violent threats are terrifying and I hope they are prosecuted to the max. Also, this hurts our poor clients the most, who need help to bring their VERY wanted children into the world. pic.twitter.com/S9CbYwIjUy— Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D. (@GChristiemd) June 8, 2022
Video footage obtained by Catholic News Agency shows four masked vandals spray-painting the clinic under cover of night on Memorial Day weekend. On July 3, the Heartbeat of Miami Pregnancy Help Medical Clinic in Hialeah informed the public in a social media post that "pro-abortion terrorists" damaged the pro-life pregnancy center's security system and spray-painted pro-abortion graffiti on the building reading "our rage will not stop" and "Jane's Revenge."
Two of the three acts of vandalism allegedly perpetrated by Freestone and Smith-Stewart took place in the days immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organizationdecision determining that the U.S. Constitution doesn't contain a right to abortion.
The June 24 ruling and the publication of a leaked draft of the decision by Politico on May 2 launched a wave of vandalism and arson targeting pro-life pregnancy centers and churches that continued throughout the summer and into the fall.
Tuesday's indictment of Freestone and Smith-Stewart, identified as members of the Miami Antifa cell by the Twitter account Antifa Watch, comes as federal law enforcement agencies face criticism from pro-life activists who contend that they are not doing enough to secure justice for those responsible for pro-abortion vandalism.
In November, the FBI offered a $25,000 reward for anyone with information about the firebombing of Compass Care Pregnancy Center's Amherst, New York location, which took place five months earlier. In early January, CompassCare hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation searching for the perpetrators of the firebombing as law enforcement investigation has not resulted in any arrests.
While the FBI has offered rewards for information pertaining to the targeting of nine additional pro-life pregnancy centers, CompassCare CEO Rev. Jim Harden contends that the efforts are "a day late and a dollar short."
In a statement, Harden maintained that it's "heartening to see that the FBI may be realizing what pro-life people have been saying for decades: pro-abortion ideology is extreme and almost always leads to violence."
"If people are willing to end the life of a preborn boy or girl, threatening and attacking people who wish to protect those little ones is of little concern to them," he added.
Harden previously insisted, "If they are serious about finding the perpetrators, they will offer a $25K reward for each of the 150 pro-life organizations that have been attacked — $3.75 million."
Harden expressed suspicions about the motivations behind the FBI's establishment of rewards for several additional attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers.
"Curiously, this move comes ahead of the House Judiciary Committee's demands for cooperation in their inquiry into the 'allegations of politicization and bias [against pro-life people] at the FBI.' Adding reward money for nine more pro-life victims makes FBI Director Wray look like the hero absent results."
The FBI's expanded reward offers follow the Republicans' recapture of the U.S. House of Representatives in last year's midterm elections. The House passed a resolution condemning the attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches in a 222-209 vote on Jan. 11. Except for three Democrats, all support for the measure came from House Republicans.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, offered a similar analysis in a statement responding to the indictment of Freestone and Smith-Stewart.
"These charges are good first steps, but the fight for equal justice is far from over. With a new House GOP majority positioned to exercise its oversight powers, we are finally beginning to see some accountability," she said.
"Congressional Democrats had the opportunity to condemn the violence and all but three refused, and again we have had to call on the White House to stop vilifying pro-life Americans. The pro-life movement is keeping a watchful eye on this administration and we will not be silent in the face of violence and intimidation."
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org