As previously reported, Cal Zastrow stood trial in city court in Jackson last Monday for three misdemeanor charges incurred while conducting pro-life outreach earlier this year outside of Jackson Women’s Health Organization in the state capital. Zastrow was facing one count each of disorderly conduct, violating the city’s sign ordinance and obstructing a public sidewalk.
He had been arrested on February 28th and March 1st, in one instance for allowing the sign he was holding to touch the ground, and in another instance for sitting on a stepladder on the sidewalk. Zastrow contended that there is no law prohibiting hand-held signs from resting on the pavement, and that there was plenty of room for the public to pass by on the sidewalk.
In hearing arguments for both sides, Judge Jennifer Studebaker agreed that the Jackson sign ordinance had been misapplied to Zastrow’s activities. She also dismissed the disorderly conduct charge lodged against him for “disturbing the peace.”
However, Studebaker opted to leave the obstruction charge in place for further review and consideration. On Monday, she issued a written opinion, finding Zastrow guilty of the charge.
“[The defendant] obstructed the normal flow of traffic on a public sidewalk by standing in the middle of the sidewalk and blocking traffic on the sidewalk, and by placing signs on the sidewalk in a manner which obstructed the free use of said sidewalk,” she wrote.
Studebaker fined Zastrow $100 plus court costs.
Zastrow, who disagrees with the ruling, says that he plans to appeal the decision to the Hinds County court system and will request a completely new trial, also known as a trial de novo. He said that he is fearful that the conviction will fuel the fires already burning against pro-life Christians who seek to save the lives of children outside of abortion facilities.
“I’m concerned that the Jackson Police Department will continue to persecute peaceful pro-life Christians while they participate in free speech outside of the last remaining abortuary in Mississippi,” Zastrow explained. “This could encourage the police to continue their tyranny against babies and against Christians.”
However, Zastrow also said that he hopes the matter will mobilize Christians to get out of the pews and onto the front lines of battle.
“I hope that it encourages peaceful pro-life Christians to say, ‘Lets go out to the streets and stop the baby murdering. Let’s come out and have church on the sidewalk and stop the tyranny against Christians, and mostly stop the tyranny against babies,'” he stated. “Abortion will end in America in the name of Jesus, but not while we sit in our churches.”
As for the hardships that he has personally endured while working to save lives on the streets, Zastrow said that he is mindful that whatever suffering he goes through on the outside of abortion facilities pales in comparison to what happens to the children on the inside.
“Any challenges or difficulties I’ve experienced, those are nothing compared to what the babies experience when they get murdered, ” he stated. “I fear more what God would say to me for letting babies get murdered than what the police would say for trying to save babies. … We pray that the police of Jackson will [likewise] protect children instead of protecting baby-murdering.”