Eight adults and four children face trespassing charges for refusing to leave Mt. Juliet’s carafem abortion clinic on Friday.
The facility is located inside the Providence Medical Pavilion.
During a press conference Friday, Mt. Juliet Police Department Capt. Tyler Chandler said that dispatch was notified of 22 individuals refusing to leave the premises around 7:50 a.m.
According to Chandler, the “lawful, peaceful protest, occurring roadside led to some members of the group moving inside the Providence Medical Pavilion.”
The individuals were reportedly obstructing entrance into the clinic. Upon arrival by officers, the crowd was instructed to leave. Ultimately, 10 individuals opted to leave voluntarily.
“We responded to handle the unlawful activity that occurred when individuals refused to leave the building after being asked multiple times to do so. When it reached the point of arrest, those engaging in unlawful activity were arrested.”
Chandler said the individuals did comply with officers upon being arrested.
Each adult was charged with trespassing and aiding delinquency of a minor. Per Chandler, the four children were teenagers who received juvenile citations for trespassing.
According to Chandler, the protesters arrived intending to be arrested. “They started to pass out papers that said they were already arrested. So it appears this group showed up today with intent on being arrested by our apartment.
“All indications and the preprinted pamphlets revealed that members of the group planned to be arrested.”
As the event unfolded, Mt. Juliet Police issued a “shelter in place” order to other clinics in the facility and was forced to divert area traffic until the scene was under control.
Carafem Chief Operating Officer Melissa Grant responded to the incident with a statement saying, “We are not going anywhere.”
Defending carafem’s mission, Grant said, “We fervently believe that every person should have access to a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including safe compassionate abortion care in order to make their own decisions about their lives, families and futures without interference, shame or coercion.”
Mt. Juliet Police Chief James Hambrick said that this is not the first time protests have happened at this clinic, but it was the first time protesters went inside and refused to leave.
“We prefer not to make arrests. We’re glad everything ended peacefully.” Hambrick said.