Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims thought he could intimidate pro-lifers into silence by bullying them and posting video of these encounters online. Within days, he learned how wrong he was when hundreds of pro-life demonstrators turned out to protest his actions.
On May 2, Sims, a Democrat who represents a Philadelphia County district, posted video of an encounter between himself and an elderly woman who was praying outside a Planned Parenthood facility. For nearly nine minutes, Sims, a former college football player, “stalks, taunts, harasses and accuses the unnamed woman” and “repeatedly attempts to shove his smartphone camera in the woman’s face,” wrote LifeSiteNews.
“Who would’ve thought that an old white lady would be out in front of a Planned Parenthood, telling people what’s right for their bodies?” said Sims. “Shame on you.”
According to LifeSiteNews:
By the end of his video, Sims had hurled the words “Shame,” “Shameful,” or “Shame on you!” at the woman at least 18 times; He said what she was doing was “Disgusting,” or “Grotesque” more than a half dozen times; He accused her of being “racist,” and repeatedly attacked Christianity.
“Push back against Planned Parenthood protestors, PLEASE!” Sims wrote on the page where he posted the video. “They prey on young women, they use white privilege, & shame. They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition. Push back, please!”
Sims later posted video in which he accosted a mother, her two teenage daughters, and their friend, calling them “pseudo-Christians” and offering to donate $100 to Planned Parenthood if anyone would supply him with the girls’ names.
Sims’ videos soon made the rounds of pro-life Twitter accounts, provoking condemnation of his actions. His response: “Bring it, Bible Bullies! You are bigots, sexists, and misogynists and I see right through your fake morals and your broken values.”
Later, Sims offered a half-apology, saying he would try to “do better for the women of Pennsylvania.” However, he still argued that “pushing back against harassment and discrimination are a must, even when they’re uncomfortable.”
Unfortunately for Sims, his attempts to silence pro-lifers only succeeded in energizing them. On Friday, “hundreds” of pro-lifers turned out at the same Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic to protest Sims’ actions, with some of the protestors calling for his resignation, reported WCAU.
Sims was repeatedly invited to attend the event — Planned Parenthood clinic-director-turned-pro-life-advocate Abby Johnson, who attended, said she personally invited him “several times” — but he did not do so. Johnson attributed Sims’ absence to the fact that “it is cowardly to defend death; it is courageous to defend life.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone who needs Jesus more than that man,” she said. “We’re going to pray for him. But we’re also going to stand up.”
Speakers at the event took direct aim at Sims’ words.
“Real racism is co-opting the language of liberation,” said Richara Krajewski of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, which received $100,000 in donations in just two days because of Sims’ videos. “Real racism is a so-called white ally telling us we need to choose between our dreams and our babies,” the “idea that older white women cannot care for black or brown women,” and “advocating for the annihilation of someone whose value is not apparent to you.”
Lauren Muzyka, executive director of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, took issue with Sims’ assertion that opposing abortion is anti-woman. According to LifeSiteNews, she pointed out that the Planned Parenthood clinic where the protest was being held had “failed 13 of its last 23 patient safety inspections, with offenses ranging from neglecting to do background checks on employees to failing to report child sex abuse.”
“Fine medical facility you have here Planned Parenthood; they are very pro-women,” she said sarcastically. “We call on Brian Sims to resign. And Mr. Sims, you owe an apology ... to the elderly grandmother, to the women, to the minor children you harassed.”
Sims has not indicated that he is going anywhere, but that could change if criminal charges are brought against him. State Republican Party chairman Val DiGiorgio has requested a criminal investigation into Sims’ actions, and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office says they are reviewing the request.
Photo of pro-lifers protesting Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims’ actions; May 10, 2019: AP Images