The broken window in the front of Joe and Ann Scheidler’s Chicago home [Photo by Ann Scheidler]
At a little after 2:00 AM on Thursday morning I awoke to the sound of breaking glass. My first thought was that a shelf must have fallen in the china cabinet. Then I heard it again. Joe and I got up and went downstairs to check out what had happened. We did not suspect anything particularly untoward. I didn’t have my contacts or glasses so I wasn’t seeing too clearly. Everything looked OK. We decided it must have been something outside, so we went back to bed.
Later in the morning when we were about to head to 7:30 Mass, Joe went out front to see if anything looked suspicious. At about the same time that he discovered shards of glass all over our front porch, I discovered a chunk of asphalt and lots of broken glass on the floor in the dining room.
A few minutes earlier I had noticed that the living room seemed a bit cold, but the windows are covered with lace shades so it wasn’t obvious that a window was broken. After finding the dining room break, I checked again in the living room. Sure enough on the floor was a plastic bag with a piece of asphalt and a note in an envelope.
Asphalt Accompanied by Cryptic Writings
I opened the envelope to find a message from a troubled woman (women). It started: “We are crazy, feminist bitches….” Clearly it was time to call the police.
A very concerned Chicago police officer arrived shortly. He explained that it wasn’t technically a burglary because no one tried to break in, but since it wasn’t exactly a random act of vandalism, it might fall into the category of a “hate crime.”
Now here I must confess that I do not believe in hate crimes. A crime is a crime. And chances are if you rob someone or hurt him or throw a brick through his window, you probably don’t like him. I don’t think we need layers of crimes with special labels to try to keep order.
It turns out, however, that the “hate crime” label does not fit this particular crime. The explanation? The perpetrator didn’t hate us. She just hated what we stand for. Rather a subtle difference it seems to me. The upshot is there won’t be much investigation unless it happens again.
Fortunately while the police officer was still at our house, a handyman pulled up. He was there to fix a door. I asked him if he was pretty good at windows too, and he set about to replace the broken panes and get the storm window repaired.
Deathscort Training Session Held the Same Night. Coincidence?
A few hours after the police report had been made, I recalled that the Illinois Choice Action Team (ICAT) had scheduled a training session for clinic escorts to work at the Albany abortion clinic on Chicago’s northwest side, where we regularly pray and counsel. The training was held about twenty minutes from our house. Did the ICAT announce our home address to the recruits, or did they come away from the training session in such a frenzy to stop pro-lifers that they decided to pay a visit to the Scheidlers? Who knows.
I called the police station to give them the new piece of information, but the officer on duty thought it was irrelevant because there would be no way to prove that someone from the training was the brick thrower. True, but it certainly seems likely.
A brick through your window is a pretty small price to pay for your beliefs. But there’s no guarantee that that’s where it stops. We are blessed that so many people pray for us on a regular basis. And we have received many calls from pro-life friends with assurance of their prayers. That’s why we aren’t especially unnerved by this act of vandalism.
And that’s why we will pray for the post-abortive women who paid us a visit and tossed a couple of bricks. Maybe no one else is praying for them. I hope you’ll join us.