Savannah Hulsey Pointer, FISM News
A federal grand jury indicted two Floridians for spray-painting threats on reproductive healthcare facilities in the state, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida returned an indictment alleging that Caleb Freestone, 27, and Amber Smith-Stewart, 23, conspired to prevent employees of reproductive healthcare facilities from providing those services. According to the indictment, the defendants targeted pregnancy resource centers and vandalized them with spray-painted threats as part of the conspiracy.
The indictment outlined the defendant’s possible crimes, saying that Freestone and Smith-Stewart, and other co-conspirators allegedly spray painted threats, including “If abortions aren’t safe than niether [sic] are you,” “YOUR TIME IS UP!!,” “WE’RE COMING for U,” and “We are everywhere,” on a reproductive health services facility in Winter Haven, Florida.
According to the indictment, facilities in Hollywood, Florida, and Hialeah, Florida, were also targeted. The indictment also claims that Freestone and Smith-Stewart violated the FACE Act by threatening and interfering with employees of a reproductive health services facility in Winter Haven who were providing or attempting to provide reproductive health services.
According to the indictment, Freestone and Smith-Stewart violated the FACE Act by intentionally damaging and destroying the facility’s property because it provides reproductive health services. If convicted, Freestone and Smith-Stewart face up to 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000.
FBI Director Christopher Wray reported that approximately 70% of abortion-related threats of violence in the United States have been directed at pro-life organizations since the Dobbs decision. According to Fox News‘ report from late 2022, the statistic was provided by the FBI director during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
During the hearing, Florida Senator Rick Scott questioned Wray about recurring accusations that the FBI is not committing resources to combat an increase in crimes against pregnancy centers, churches, and other pro-life institutions.
“My view — plainly expressed to all of our people, including in the context of abortion-related violence — is that I don’t care what side of the issue you’re on, you don’t get to engage in violence, and we are equal-opportunity when it comes to that,” Wray replied to Scott.
The FBI director then addressed the rising number of violent threats and attacks against pro-life organizations, the most explicit confirmation of the trend from FBI leadership thus far.
“Now, we have quite a number of investigations — as we speak — into attacks or threats against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and other pro-life organizations,” Wray continued. “And you might be interested to know that since the Dobbs Act decision, probably in the neighborhood of 70% of our abortion-related violence cases or threats cases are cases of violence or threats against […] pro-life organizations. And we’re going after that through our joint terrorism task forces, through our criminal authorities, FACE Act, and things like that.”
“We have about 20 field offices involved in this. And so we take it very seriously. And again, I don’t care [if] you’re motivated by pro-life views or pro-choice views. You don’t get to use violence to express it,” he added.
Scott expressed surprise that the FBI has not been more vocal in prosecuting those who threaten or attack pro-life organizations, despite his support for Wray’s firm tone in explaining the situation. According to the senator, the public would be forgiven for thinking that the FBI was more concerned with prosecuting pro-life advocates than those who threatened them based on press and outside reporting.