(Flint, MI) — On June 8, 2023, the American Freedom Law Center filed its opening brief in the Michigan Court of Appeals, appealing the felony convictions of four courageous Red Rose Rescuers who peacefully entered an abortion center in Flint, Michigan on June 7, 2019, in an effort to save unborn babies and their mothers from the harm of abortion.
AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel Robert Muise commented:
“This case involved the peaceful exercise of conscience by four individuals (the Red Rose Rescuers) who object to abortion on moral and religious grounds and who understand firsthand the harm caused by this horrific procedure to both the unborn babies and their mothers. At most, this was a misdemeanor trespass case. Unfortunately, the pro-abortion prosecutor transformed it into a felony. The rescuers are now seeking justice in the Michigan Court of Appeals.”
As set forth in their opening brief:
“On June 7, 2019, [the rescuers] peacefully entered the Women’s Health Center in Flint, Michigan—an abortion center. No violent act was committed by any [rescuer]. No violent act was threatened by any [rescuer]. No [rescuer] assaulted, battered, or wounded any police officer. No [rescuer] possessed any weapons. No [rescuer] fled or attempted to flee the scene upon the arrival of the police officers. [The rescuers] were peaceful throughout. Yet, [they] are now convicted felons for what amounts to a peaceful trespass.
[The rescuers] remained on the premises of the abortion center that day to witness for life and to remain in solidarity with those who would be harmed by abortion. The police officers arrested [the rescuers] for refusing to leave the abortion center (a simple trespass charge). Upon their arrests, [the rescuers] engaged in a time-honored act reminiscent of the civil rights movement that is often described as “passive resistance,” although that description is inaccurate here because [the rescuers] offered no resistance—they simply went limp. [The rescuers] explained to the officers that they could not morally assist with their own arrests. As a matter of conscience, [the rescuers] could not assist the officers with their arrests because doing so made them morally complicit in the killing of innocent lives. But [the rescuers] did nothing that prevented the officers from exercising their police authority and arresting them. [The rescuers] were in fact arrested and carried off the property.
There is a difference between actively resisting or actively obstructing an arrest and simply not assisting in your own arrest, particularly when the arrestee’s conscience prohibits such active participation, as in this case. Nonetheless, because they were abiding by their sincerely held religious beliefs, [the rescuers] are now convicted felons for having violated MCL § 750.81d(1), which effectively converted a peaceful trespass that involved no violence, no threats of violence, no personal injury, and no property damage into a felony. Justice compels reversal of this felony conviction.
In the final analysis, like many other peaceful civil rights advocates—Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks come immediately to mind—[the rescuers] were peacefully exercising their rights of conscience. They are not felons nor does the law or evidence support a felony conviction. The convictions should be reversed and the cases remanded for dismissal of the felony charges and for a new trial before a properly instructed jury on the remaining misdemeanor offenses.”
In addition to seeking reversal of their felony convictions, the rescuers are also appealing the lower court’s ruling that denied them jury instructions on the defense of others and necessity. This issue is of particular interest in this case because the Dobbs decision, which reversed Roe, was handed down just days before the trial.
AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi further noted:
“We all watched with horror as Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement engaged in damaging acts of violence throughout the country with impunity. On a daily basis, we witness Leftwing, Soros-funded prosecutors turning a blind eye to serious and violent crimes, allowing their cities to become ravaged by violent criminals. Yet, here, we have a prosecutor in Flint, Michigan—a crime-ridden city—pursuing felony charges in this case. There is undoubtedly a two-tiered system of justice in our country. Something has to change. We pray that the Michigan Court of Appeals will remedy this terrible injustice.”