A clash between groups opposing and supporting abortion rights broke out at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Modesto, California, on Saturday was cleared by law enforcement in tactical riot gear using pepper ball guns, police have confirmed.
The encounter, which resulted in multiple arrests, was confirmed by the Modesto police department. Video of the clash was posted on Twitter.
“We got shit going down at the opposition to the Straight Pride rally in Modesto, CA. Cops have just declared an unlawful assembly aftee (sic) the fash (fascists) showed up,” said Daryle Lamont Jenkins, director of One People’s Project, alongside the post.
A spokesperson for the department said that clashes came during an annual protest by Straight Pride, an anti-abortion group with links to the alt-right, after they were confronted by pro-choice counter-protesters.
Four people were detained – three were arrested for failure to disperse, and one was released, police said.
Police said they didn’t immediately have the names or affiliations of those who were arrested, though they noted that the counter-protest group showed to the demonstration in larger numbers.
The clashes between rival groups came soon after the scheduled 11am start of the rally. About 11.20am, Modesto police declared an unlawful assembly and directed demonstrators to disperse.
Besides a shrub being lit on fire, “there was some fighting … so we declared it unlawful assembly, moved everybody out of the area, blocked streets and made several arrests”, the department spokesperson explained.
Straight Pride is among several fringe groups that are active against reproductive rights, which suffered a substantial blow when the US supreme court decided to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that granted nationwide abortion rights.
Members of the group were reportedly among the Donald Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol on 6 January 2021 in a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to block the congressional certification of the former president’s electoral defeat to Joe Biden.
SP is often grouped with Super Happy Fun America, which bills itself as a civil rights organization that opposes gender diversity and stands in opposition to what it calls “cultural Marxism”.