Washington D.C., Mar 17, 2023 / 16:20 pm (CNA).
Two pro-abortion activists were caught on video stealing pro-life signs and then violently resisting arrest on March 10 at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
The activists, identified by the police as Ian Dinkla, 21, and Bryn Taylor, 26, were arrested by officers from the University of Florida Police Department. They now face violent felony charges including "battery of a law enforcement officer" and "resisting an officer with violence." They will stand trial in Alachua county court in Florida.
The signs stolen by the abortion activists included photos of aborted babies and were posted on campus as part of a temporary demonstration by the pro-life group Created Equal. The group had received permission to post their display from the University of Florida administration.
An Ohio-based group, Created Equal trains and sends students to colleges and high schools across the East Coast to raise awareness of the reality of abortion.
According to the police arrest report, Dinkla repeatedly shoved a police officer in attempts to resist arrest while Taylor struck the officer over the head with a bullhorn and punched him in the face.
The video, posted by Created Equal, first shows Dinkla grabbing a large pro-life sign and walking off with it to put in his car.
Video taken later that day shows Dinkla approaching another pro-life display and then being confronted by a plainclothes law enforcement officer who identifies himself as "Detective Tarafa with the University of Florida Police Department."
Dinkla becomes noncompliant and shoves the detective away, saying "stop this person, I'm being attacked."
As Dinkla can be seen resisting arrest, Taylor intervenes, striking the detective, jumping on him, and shouting profanities.
According to the police arrest record, Taylor "struck Det. Tarafa in the back of his head with a bullhorn. Det. Tarafa then attempted to detain the Defendant [Taylor] and was punched in the face with a closed fist."
During the altercation additional uniformed police officers converged on the scene. Dinkla is recorded shouting for other students to intervene, saying: "You fools, you get involved! Bystander effect!"
After both students have been subdued Taylor continues to shout at the police, saying; "Are you f---ing insane?" and "You're defending people who come here and harass people?"
Taylor is now facing two felony charges for battery of a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence, along with a misdemeanor charge of resisting without violence for interfering with a lawful arrest.
Dinkla is also facing two charges for robbery by sudden snatching and resisting an officer with violence. University of Florida Police documentation states that he "knowingly and willfully resisted, by doing violence to Det. Tarafa, by forcefully pushing him away, and then pulling away once Det. Tarafa placed his hands on Dinkla."
Created Equal's president Mark Harrington told CNA that harassment, vandalism, and theft against their pro-life efforts is "commonplace."
"As you can imagine, going to a college campus and presenting a pro-life message is generally not very welcomed on a campus," Harrington said. "Doing it the way we do, which is to show the victims of abortion, often brings even a higher level of opposition."
"We face this kind of opposition everywhere we go. We will never back down or cower to these types of tactics by abortion advocates. It only emboldens us to continue on with the mission," Harrington said. "There are a large number of students who are interested in discussing with us about abortion and that's why we're there."
In a March 10 statement on Facebook, Harrington said: "It is no surprise that those who advocate for the killing of preborn humans resort to violence towards those with whom they disagree … We are grateful no staff members were injured in this incident. We also appreciate the efforts of the university and its law enforcement officers to protect the peaceful exercise of our First Amendment rights."
The University of Florida confirmed with CNA that both Taylor and Dinkla are enrolled as students and that the school is currently conducting a disciplinary review.
Though the school could not disclose what type of disciplinary action the students could be facing, university spokesman Steve Orlando told CNA that "the University of Florida will be absolutely clear about these two things: Speech is protected, and violence is not tolerated."
"Everyone — regardless of their views — can exercise their First Amendment rights on this campus, and nobody has a right to violence," Orlando said. "Violent behavior and resisting arrest are unacceptable."
Graduate Assistants United, a graduate employees' labor union at the University of Florida of which Taylor is a member, took to Twitter in defense of the arrested students and asked for donations to pay their bail.
The group tweeted:
"!!NEED SOLIDARITY AND HELP!! 2 friends, GAs were arrested today while protesting in Turlington Plaza for women's rights. Court support needed, Bail Money needed" and "Please share, show up, and help in any way. We will not be intimidated."
Both Taylor and Dinkla have since been released, with Taylor being released on the condition she cannot return to the University of Florida campus during her trial, according to local news outlet WCJB.
WCJB reported that a crowd of nearly 100 protesters showed up at the county courthouse to demonstrate their support for Taylor and Dinkla.
This comes as pro-life groups and churches across the U.S. face a spate of vandalism and harassment since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
CNA has tracked and mapped more than 100 incidents of pro-abortion vandalism across the U.S., including at least 56 at pregnancy centers and 33 at churches of various denominations.
Members of Congress have criticized the Department of Justice under the Biden administration for largely failing to respond to these crimes against pro-life groups and churches.
On Jan. 11, a resolution by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, condemning the attacks against pro-lifers and calling for the administration to act in their defense passed the House in a 222-209 vote.