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21 / 02 / 2009 - African American Pastor Sentenced to Jail for Counselling Women on Public Sidewalk
Rev. Walter Hoye of Berkeley, California was sentenced to serve 30-days in county jail after being found guilty on January 15, 2009, of unlawfully approaching a person entering an abortion facility in Oakland.
The court is allowing Hoye to serve his time by an alternative method such as community service. Hoye was also fined a total of $1,130 and ordered to stay away from the abortion facility.
"It is absolutely incredible that in America an individual can be sentenced to jail for engaging in peaceful free speech activity on a public sidewalk," remarked Allison Aranda, Staff Counsel for Life Legal Defense Foundation, which is representing Hoye. "We will appeal."
The African-American pastor is the founder of the Issues4Life Foundation and an outspoken opponent of the genocide of unborn African Americans. He had been accustomed since early 2007 to picket alone or with two other women on the public sidewalk in front of Oakland's abortion clinic and counsel incoming patients, holding a sign reading, "Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help."
Last spring, however, Oakland city council members passed an ordinance concerning "Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities." The law prohibits anyone from approaching within eight feet of women entering an abortion facility, without their consent. The maximum penalty was established as one year in jail and/or a $2000 fine.
Hoye was arrested in May 2008 and charged with intimidating the abortuary staff, in addition to violating the distance rule, and was issued a restraining order. The intimidation order was later dropped after video evidence showed that abotuary staff had lied about Hoye's behavior in front of the facility.
According to 2004 statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, about 37 percent of pregnancies of black women end in abortion, compared with 12 percent for non-Hispanic white women and 19 percent for Hispanic women.
Attorneys Catherine Short and Mike Millen, who also represented Rev. Hoye at trial, are also engaged in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance and are hopeful it will be struck down.
For more details about Rev. Hoye's case go to http://www.lldf.org.