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Just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last June, Calvin Zastrow, A pro-life sidewalk preacher, walked on the public sidewalk in front of an abortion facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He was one of about 40 people there the morning of July 13, 2022, and, as Zastrow paced back and forth carrying his toddler grandson, he sometimes crossed the driveway to the facility that intersects with the sidewalk.
“They said I blocked the driveway,” Zastrow told The Epoch Times. “But they have no evidence that any cars were blocked, trying to turn in, or planning to come in. If you’re walking in front of a driveway, and nobody’s trying to turn in, you’re not blocking anything.”
Shortly after the police arrived, Zastrow put his grandson back into his mother’s arms. He noticed police were standing in the middle of the road, which would have blocked traffic, but it was slow that morning, and he said there was not much traffic.
“The police come out, and they say, ‘You can’t go in front of the driveway.’ Well, I knew that was not a lawful order. There was nobody blocking, and nobody even coming. So I kept walking.”
I Lived Liberty
When police give an order, but it seems unlawful, he said, you have to make a choice.
“Am I going to uphold the rule of law? Or am I going to hold lawlessness at [the] point of [a] gun, and clasp of handcuff by a police officer who’s acting lawless? Then you have to make a choice. I made a choice. I lived liberty. I upheld the rule of law.”
God’s law says thou shall not kill, he said.
The decision had consequences.
“They said, ‘No, you’re going to jail.’ So that’s what happened.”
He spent that day in jail, charged with failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer, a local misdemeanor. In April, he had a jury trial.
Thursday, Zastrow, who represented himself in court, attended his sentencing. More than 30 people went to the courthouse to pray and sing hymns before and after the sentencing.
“Everybody has the constitutional right to make a statement before sentencing,” Zastrow said. “I didn’t do that. I gave an 11-minute sermon.”
Before he spoke, Zastrow set up a poster he uses on the street—a photograph of a dead, aborted baby.
“As I unrolled the poster in court, the judge stared in grief at the large picture of a preborn child murdered by choice,” Zastrow described on his social media. “He listened attentively to my passionate 11-minute sermon from Isaiah, made his remarks, and sentenced me to 100 hours of community service because I had peacefully rescued children. Worthy is the Lamb of God!”
Probation had originally suggested 60 hours of community service and several hundred dollars in fines, but Judge Michael J. Distel gave him an opportunity to speak. Zastro asked if he could do something other than pay the fine, which would be odious to him.
“I don’t like propping up a baby-murdering system. I do not like paying the salary of the prosecutor who will not uphold the rule of law and come and prosecute me in court. I don’t like paying his salary. I don’t like paying the salary of the police officers who are lawless and protect baby murdering and persecute Christians. If I don’t have to pay their salary. That would be a blessing to me.”
That is how he got 100 hours of community service and no fine. Zastrow hopes he can get the service done and put this case behind him before he is back in court again.
Decades in Prison
Zastrow faces five more court cases related to his presence at abortion facilities. Of those, two are federal cases, with FACE Act charges from the FBI, that each carries 11 years in federal prison, that is, 22 years total.
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act was enacted in 1994 to prohibit interference with obtaining or providing abortions. After the Supreme Court ruled on Abortion last year, the Department of Justice, under the direction of President Joe Biden, cracked down on pro-life street preachers and sidewalk counselors in a way that had not been seen previously. It started charging pro-lifers retroactively and added conspiracy charges, making what used to be a risk of a year in prison, now an 11-year threat.
Zastro and others who were with him face federal charges in Nashville, Tennessee and Detroit, Michigan. That same Michigan case also has local charges.
He also faces local charges of trespassing in Fort Myers, Florida, which could bring a year in jail and a fine. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the local charges could bring a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
Asked why he continues to risk his freedom on the sidewalks of abortion facilities, Zastro didn’t miss a beat.
“Because they’re still killing people. Let’s stop pretending that everything is okay,” Zastrow said. “I pray for more people to love Jesus enough, to love their preborn neighbors as themselves.”