JACKSON, Miss. — A guard who works at the last remaining abortion facility in Mississippi was found guilty of four counts of simple assault this past week for pepper-spraying several Christians who were praying and singing hymns on the public sidewalk.
As previously reported, the incident took place in January of this year as the Christians stood outside of Jackson Women’s Health Organization in the state capital. Cal Zastrow, one of the men who were struck by the pepper spray, 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 standing nearby.
“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.
Zastrow later filed a criminal complaint against Benjamin, who appeared in Jackson City Court this past Wednesday. Approximately 50 Christians gathered outside of the courthouse for a prayer and praise rally both during and after the hearing.
“[Benjamin’s] attorney entered a ‘no contest’ plea on four counts of ‘simple assault’ for pepper-spraying peaceful pro-lifers, and hospitalizing my son Jim and I,” Zastrow explained. “The attorney expressed her intention to appeal in Hinds County Court after Judge Malouf found Benjamin guilty on all four counts.”
Benjamin was fined $250 plus court costs, and was sentenced to 6 months of unsupervised probation. He also received a suspended 30-day jail sentence. The appeal will result in a new trial, also known as a trial de novo.
“We look forward to the day—soon—when the murdering of preborn children in Mississippi will be stopped, and the governmental tyranny protecting murder will be replaced with God-fearing civil authorities,” Zastrow stated. “We’re trusting God to bring Roy Benjamin, other deathcamp workers, and the city police to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ!”
During the time of Benjamin’s trial, the pro-life organizations Operation Save America (OSA) and States of Refuge gathered in Jackson to speak out for life. Zastrow reports that the Church is making an impact by its presence.
“The abortuary didn’t commit one single kill the whole time while we were there,” he stated. “Their numbers of kills are down, and are only open to kill two days each week now.”
Pro-life and evangelistic efforts were also conducted at local high schools and colleges throughout the Jackson area. Millsaps College, which was once a Christian institution, ejected the groups from the campus minutes after Flip Benham of Operation Save America preached near a statue of John Wesley holding a Bible.
“We were removed from campus for our pro-life Gospel message,” Zastrow said.
Christians from across the country have been working to end abortion in Mississippi over the past year.