By DeAnn Flanagan
Wichita, Kansas – An elderly and disabled pro-life activist was arrested today under suspicious circumstances outside South Wind Women’s Center, located at 5107 E. Kellogg in Wichita, Kansas.
David E. Schmidt, 73, tied a large pro-life sign to a chair and stood nearby holding another sign. A new ordinance prohibits signs from being left unattended. Schmidt, who is considered “99% blind,” is a regular volunteer of the Kansas Coalition for Life.
Pro-life eyewitness Joseph Elmore told Operation Rescue that a security guard for the abortion business, John Rayburn, came out the facility and began untying the sign and was about to take it away when Schmidt intervened, objecting to the sign’s removal. A tussle over the sign ensued and police were called.
Schmidt was arrested and charged with battery. Police allowed Rayburn to keep the pro-life sign.
Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger placed a phone call to Sgt. James Krok to attempt to smooth over relations and get more information about Schmidt’s arrest. However, Sgt. Krok was adversarial and repeatedly interrupted Sullenger then hung up on her.
“We want to have good relations with the police, and my call was an effort to build a bridge, but Sgt. Krok only returned my efforts with rudeness. You would think in this day and age that police would be grateful to those who reach out to them,” said Sullenger.
The question that seemed to anger Sgt. Krok was when Sullenger asked under what authority the abortion clinic security guard has the right to confiscate private property. That is when Krok informed Sullenger he would not talk to her anymore and hung up on her in mid-sentence.
Sullenger suggested that Sgt. Krok may need additional training on maintaining good public relations.
“In my opinion, the security guard tried to take the law into his own hands by confiscating the sign,” said Sullenger. “It was a provocative act meant to get a reaction from the pro-lifers. The police pandering to the abortion business only inflamed the matter.”
Schmidt was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail and was being held on a $1,000 bond. Mark Gietzen, Director for the Kansas Coalition for Life, was working on posting bail for Schmidt as of this writing.
Gietzen lays part of the blame for the incident on new “no parking signs” around the abortion facility that were recently erected by police even though, due to a court case and neighborhood petition, parking was allowed on the street for years.
“If we could park where we normally do, the sign would have been put in the Truth Truck. Instead we are forced to park down the street,” said Gietzen, who had for months parked a box truck with pro-life messages across from the abortion facility gate. “The no parking signs are hindering our First Amendment rights to Free Speech.”
“We hope that cooler heads will prevail and that relations between pro-life activists and police can improve,” said Sullenger. “But that will take effort on their side as well as ours.”