Pro-life protesters took this photo of a driver of a silver Kia Soul, a man who has carried out a half dozen attacks on peaceful vigils outside a downtown Portland abortion site. (Courtesy Peter Tran)
Pro-life protesters took this photo of a driver of a silver Kia Soul, a man who has carried out a half dozen attacks on peaceful vigils outside a downtown Portland abortion site. (Courtesy Peter Tran)
Nonviolent pro-life protesters outside the Lilith abortion clinic in downtown Portland have been hit by pepper spray, BBs and spit over the past six months. Fifteen different protesters have received minor injuries.

In January, a woman who works in the building tried to take the vigil keepers’ table, then threw a sign that injured the hand of Therese Ruesink, who organizes the events. The attacker, her face shielded by a mask, then shoved another volunteer.

Suspected in a half dozen of the attacks is a man who drives a silver Kia Soul with Washington plates and keeps a pit bull in the back seat. The same man has accosted vigil keepers while on foot, with the dog in tow. He also followed two women from the group for almost an hour.

The man threatened one volunteer, saying, “If you come back, I’m going to bash your head in.”

Peter Tran, a regular vigil keeper who himself got a face full of pepper spray May 27, fears the man is escalating his attacks.

“All of us urban missionaries are very concerned for our safety at this point, and for the general public who may get caught in his line of fire,” Tran wrote in a June 1 letter to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.

The volunteers have filed many reports with the Portland Police and have the license plate number and car description. Tran urged Schmidt to take action and explained what the vigil keepers do for the public good.

“We are ready to connect women facing unplanned pregnancies with comprehensive information on resources they can access to overcome challenges with housing, rent, utility, clothing, medical care, mental health and other social services, both public and private,” said Tran, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Northeast Portland. “When on the street, we minister to the homeless by meeting their needs whatever it is; clothing, food, gift cards, toiletries and other necessities.”