As a group of pro-lifers were praying and sidewalk counseling outside the Albany Medical Surgical Center abortion facility in Chicago on the morning of July 26, two Chicago Police cars arrived around 10:15 a.m., and three officers entered the building.
Five minutes later they came back out, along with Albany employee Diana Maracick, who pointed to one of the group’s veteran sidewalk counselors, 64-year old Anna Marie Mesia. Officer Julie Felsenthal then approached her.
Alleged Battery Committed the Previous Day, When Pro-Lifer Wasn’t There
Officer Felsenthal told her that she was not allowed to touch anyone. Anna Marie replied that she hadn’t touched anyone. Officer Felsenthal then told Anna Marie the police had received a complaint that she had touched someone the previous day (Wednesday, July 25), and that she was under arrest.
Anna Marie said that she wasn’t even there that day — and, in fact, hadn’t been there since the previous Thursday, July 19.
But her protests were of no avail, and she was arrested anyway.
When the officers asked Anna Marie to show her ID, she replied that it was in her car parked across the street. They walked over with her to her car, and after she retrieved her ID, the officers told her to put her hands behind her back, handcuffed her, and placed her in one of the squad cars:
When Anna Marie asked the officers why she was being arrested, they replied, “Simple battery” — which, to reiterate, was alleged to have occurred the previous day, when she wasn’t even there.
To say that Anna Marie’s arrest by the Chicago Police was outrageous would be a gross understatement. Pro-Life Action League National Director Joe Scheidler was an eyewitness to her arrest, and he is shown in the video above talking on the phone to our attorneys at the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center.
Make no mistake: this is not over.
Arrested, But Not Intimidated
Anna Marie was brought to the nearby 16th District police station and was released shortly before 3:00 p.m. — just in time for her to join Joe Scheidler and several other sidewalk counselors and prayer supporters in praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, followed by a late lunch.
Anna Marie then came to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at the St. Joseph Chapel in our office, after which I had the chance to speak with her.
I asked her if being arrested would make her shy away from sidewalk counseling in the future. Her reply: “Absolutely not,” adding that she was now “more convinced of how needed it is.”
She further noted that being arrested was — in a way that some may have great difficulty understanding — an answer to prayer. (It didn’t occur to me until later that this incident occurred on her feast day, July 26 being the feast of St. Anne.)
In Anna Marie’s words: “The Lord wanted me to become more courageous.” And the experience of being unjustly arrested under such absurd circumstances has made her just that.