Pro-life protesters disrupt Women's March on Washington
WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 500,000 people from around the nation turned out for the Women’s March on Washington. It also attracted its share of detractors – specifically, members of a West Coast street preacher outfit.
The Official Street Preachers staged one-man and group protests around the parade route Saturday. Some members of the group interrupted the march’s conclusion near the Smithsonian Institution district on Independence Avenue.
The Los Angeles-based group was founded by part-time evangelist Ruben Israel. They were the only protestors issuing a rebuke to women’s reproductive rights and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
Prepare 4 Judgment. Sin You’re Damned. Homo Sex is a Sin.
Other members held large signs with similar phrases. The posters denounced the LGBTQ community, Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter. They also issued ominous warnings over megaphones about “the end times” ahead.
“Repent, repent,” bellowed one preacher at the center of the march. “When Satan wants to deceive us, he uses a woman.”
Israel and his crew held steadfast near the Smithsonian Castle. An assortment of evangelists were peppered throughout the demonstration. At each spot, the preachers were met with fierce opposition.
Others chose to disrupt their proselytizing, drowning out the brimstone din with feminist chants. Each preacher became perturbed, and called out marchers for “acting like teenagers.”
A few pro-life backers of President Donald Trump participated in the march. Most Trump supporters stayed on the sidelines, like Charles Brower of Pensacola, Florida. Brower wore a black Trump campaign hat atop his thin, white hair. He is a pro-life Christian who came to the capitol to see Trump’s inauguration. He attended the march to support other pro-lifers.
While he fundamentally disagrees with the march, Brower said he understands why some women would abhor Trump’s sexist and misogynistic rhetoric. He remained silent until two marchers allegedly “infringed” on a nearby missionary’s rights to free speech.
Brower argued loudly with a female activist. The activist didn’t pull her punches.
“We're expressing the same free speech rights that he's expressing," she said. "I gave water to a man (who supported Trump) here because he was thirsty. What have you done to love these people here other than yell and put your hands on me?"
Brower responded, “You're trying to deny his right to preach the Bible."
Other clashes were less civil.
In the final hour of the march, a bustling and angry crowd grew around Israel’s outpost. They yelled expletives, chants and insults. The preachers returned the favor. Tensions boiled over into face-to-face shouting matches.
D.C. police officers moved in to give the evangelists room. A lesbian couple kissed deeply. A man in a Jesus Christ hoodie looked the other way.
Jordan Jean, a 20-year-old Howard University student, challenged an evangelist on scripture and diversity. Jean is studying doctoral theology and works with Black Lives Matter.
He's heard it all before.
“We're the ones being targeted for being minorities day in and day out, and that's why I'm trying to express to these people," Jean said. "Yes some vicious words were said, and usually I get riled up over it, but that's what they want. They want a response from us. They want someone to hit them so they have a news story that says Black Lives Matter and Brown Lives Matter are violent people."
After going toe-to-toe with each other for nearly an hour, the preachers packed up and left. The marchers followed suit, and set out on a different path.