As promised in a previous hotline, today we offer a full report on our ninth annual Face the Truth Tour, held July 11-19. Special thanks to the League’s Assistant Communications Director, Matt Yonke, as he is the one who did the write-up of this year’s Tour, which was one of the most exciting and well attended in years.
Challenges with Law Enforcement on Face the Truth Tour
The tour began on Friday, July 11, in the Joliet area. Towards the end of the first site, police informed Tour Captain Eric Scheidler that, after five years of Tour stops in Joliet with no problems at all, they were going to enforce a “parade ordinance” which prohibits gatherings of more than ten people without a permit.
Attorney Jason Craddock of the Thomas More Society was with us that morning and was able to persuade the police to let us finish the stop.
The third site, however, did not go as smoothly. Joliet police arrived on the scene, clearly angry before they even talked to anyone. They told Eric, once again, that they would be enforcing their “parade ordinance” this time at the very beginning of our display. Eric was told to pull in all the signs and volunteers immediately or they would begin arresting everyone.
The ordinance did allow for ten people to congregate without a permit, so ten signs stayed up for the full duration of the tour stop.
Chicago Ridge Police Attempt to Shut the Tour Down
On Friday, July 18, the Tour visited the South Side of Chicago. After fruitful stops in Gage Park and Garfield Ridge, the last site of the day was 95th Street and Ridgeland Avenue, right next to the Chicago Ridge Mall.
Ridgeland divides the towns of Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge at 95th Street, and while the Oak Lawn police were cooperative, the Chicago Ridge police were very opposed to our presence there, insisting, like Joliet, that we needed a permit.
The Chief of Police of Chicago Ridge was called out in plain clothes to attempt to put a stop to the display. Finally, Eric Scheidler called Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, who in turn called their city attorney. Brejcha told them they could shut down our display and deal with the matter later in federal court, or they could simply let us finish the site.
Thanks to Brejcha’s intervention, they chose to back down and let the display run its course.
Record Numbers on Several Days
Many sites saw incredible turnout on this year’s tour. In Lake Zurich on Thursday, July 17 a combined effort between homeschool groups, churches, and local activists like longtime volunteer Jim Finnegan, drew a crowd beyond anyone’s expectations.
Over 100 people came out in the pounding noon-day sun to show Lake Zurich the truth about abortion. Every one of the 84 graphic signs the League brought as well as many picket signs were deployed. Some activists teamed up with others who were already holding signs.
On the final day in Aurora record crowds came despite inclement weather. The first site at Aurora’s infamous “Abortion Fortress” drew 150 pro-lifers despite clouds and on-and-off showers.
Not knowing if the rain would allow the graphic signs to be used, a picket line was formed along New York Street to start. Once the weather broke, both sides of New York Street were lined with graphic signs and many more pictures of Christ lined corners and side streets.
At the second site in Naperville, all 84 signs were once again deployed, this time despite steady rains throughout most of the stop. Pro-lifers didn’t mind the rain one bit. In fact, many saw it as an excellent opportunity to offer their discomfort for the sufferings of the victims of abortion.
Three Babies Given a Second Chance
Of course, the intention of the Face the Truth Tour is to change hearts and minds by displaying the reality of abortion, and hearts and minds were indeed changed. In addition to the countless passersby who said they had no idea that that’s what abortion looks like, three amazing incidents showed just how effective these pictures can be.
On the first day of the tour in Joliet, after the police had forced us to reduce our display to just ten signs, a young girl pulled into an adjoining parking lot and waved over James Voissem, a high school student and one of this year’s most dedicated activists. She asked James for some literature, explaining that she had a pregnant friend who was planning on having an abortion. She said she knew her friend really didn’t want to have the abortion and that once she saw these pictures she was certain her friend would not have the abortion!
Downtown Chicago on Monday, July 14, the Tour visited Daley Plaza. Longtime volunteer Luann Bloom had a girl stop and tell her she was utterly confused by the signs. She told Luann she was pregnant and her boyfriend had given her $300 to procure an abortion, but now that she had seen the reality of abortion she didn’t know what to do.
Luann spoke with her at length about what abortion really entails and, when the girl was still uncertain, Luann gave her her phone number and told her that if the young lady didn’t want the baby, she would adopt him as her own. The girl was incredibly moved by this. Please keep her in your prayers.
Finally in Mundelein on Thursday, July 17, towards the end of the stop, a woman pulled over and talked to two of the volunteers holding signs. She said she had driven by earlier with her daughter who was pregnant and planning on abortion. She told them that when her daughter saw the signs, she broke into tears and told her that she could no longer go through with the abortion and had decided to have the baby.
The mother told the volunteers, with tears in hear eyes, “You people saved a life today. Thank you!”
End-of-Tour Party at Eric Scheidler’s Home
For a change of pace to cap off a hugely successful Tour, the end of the Tour party was held at the home of the League’s Eric Scheidler in Aurora.
Stalwart activist Sally Polesel presented both Joe and Eric Scheidler’s families each with a beautiful three foot tall statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in gratitude for their years of service and sacrifice in the pro-life movement.
Ann and Joe both agreed that this year’s Face the Truth Tour was one of the best they could remember in the nine years of the Tour’s history. Thanks to all who volunteered their time and to all those who remembered the Tour in their prayers.