Jackson, Mississippi — Three Christians in Mississippi were hospitalized this morning after being incapacitated with pepper spray by a guard as they sang hymns outside of the last abortion facility in the state.
The incident took place at approximately 8:30 this morning as the Christians stood on the public sidewalk outside of Jackson Women’s Health Organization in the state capital. As previously reported, the location, being the last abortion facility in Mississippi, may possibly close this year as it is unable to comply with state law.
Cal Zastrow, one of the men that was struck by the pepper spray this morning, told Christian News Network that the guard, Roy Benjamin, did not want the Christians anywhere near the facility.
“He came off the abortion mill property and put an oscillating sprinkler on the sidewalk to get all the pro-lifers wet,” Zastrow explained. “My 15-year-old held his boot over the sprinkler, so the bottom of his boot was getting sprayed but he wasn’t.”
However, just moments later as Zastrow and the others were singing hymns on the sidewalk, Benjamin began to unleash pepper spray on those gathered.
“He sprayed me in my mouth,” Zastrow said. “So, it went into the back of my mouth and into my throat and up to my eyeballs.”
He immediately fell to the ground. Zastrow’s 15-year-old son, Jim, and a third male, Doug Lane, were also incapacitated by the spray.
Although an ambulance came to the scene, Zastrow states that he ended up having a family member take him to the hospital because the ambulance staff treated him unkindly.
“[T]he guy wasn’t very cooperative or friendly about the matter,” he explained. “So, I called for my daughter to come and drive us to the hospital.”
He outlined that ambulance staff then told him that he would need to sign a form stating that he did not wish to ride in the ambulance. However, when he refused because he could not see anything, they became angry.
“A man who’s taller than me comes and starts yelling and screaming at me,” Zastrow said. “My friend said he was jumping up and down and screaming.”
Zastrow then spent most the day at the hospital, where his eyes and mouth were flushed, and suction cups were placed over his face to drip saline solution into his eyes. He will also need to see an optomologist following the incident as well.
After being released from the hospital, Zastrow went to the police station to file a complaint, but continued to experience difficulty as the station computer systems were down. Police would not accept a written report.
Although Diane Derzis, the manager of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, told reporters that Benjamin used the spray because he needed to “protect himself” from the Christians, Zastrow said that Benjamin’s actions were unwarranted.
“Nobody was threatened,” he said. “We were on the public sidewalk peacefully singing.”
Zastrow has been a part of a group of Christians that are working and praying for the shutdown of Jackson Women’s Health Organization in an effort to make Mississippi the first abortion-free state in the nation.
“My children and I have been having church on the sidewalk,” he explained, noting that they have participated in a 40-day “church on the sidewalk” effort. “We’ve been there for every single one of them.”
“Yesterday, we [participated in] a memorial service for the unborn and we showed the baby Daniel, who had been killed by abortion,” Zastrow continued. “We also went to two high schools to pass out pro-life literature.”
He further noted that on Sunday, the group went to several of the abortion facilities in the state that have closed over the years and began to share testimonies about how God is working to save lives.
Despite today’s adversity, Zastrow remained undeterred in his commitment to stand for the unborn. He stated that his desire is for the Body of Christ to be pro-life not in name only, but also in deed.
“Being pro-life doesn’t save any babies, acting pro-life does,” Zastrow declared. “Come on, Church! It’s your responsibility to stop the killing.”