Fondren businesses face harassment from religious protestors, demand city do more to keep the peace

News

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Business owners in Fondren feel they’re losing their community and customers to hostile religious protestors harassing people on a weekly basis. Many calls for the city to act against what some are calling unlawful behavior have gone nowhere.

It’s not uncommon for prayer circles and peaceful protests to gather outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, but lately, more protestors have walked up and down these blocks condemning anyone who disagrees with them.

“They were close enough to where customers said if it happens again, they won’t be back,” Walker’s Drive-in owner Derek Emerson said.

One of Jackson’s most popular communities feels under attack as people protesting abortion access take graphic signs like these then walk along restaurant fronts screaming insults.

“These people coming over going up and down the street not even by the clinic, and they’ve got bull horns screaming in front of my patio,” Roosters owner Nathan Glenn stated. “Five feet from my deck screaming at my customers. When I call JPD, they’re not allowed to do anything or come help protect us.”

These are clear violations of Mississippi Codes 97-35-9 and 97-35-13, which state a person who “willfully disrupts the peace of any family or person by loud noise or offensive conduct” shall be punished by a fine or six months in jail.

“We donate constantly to the city and to things that go on in the city. But at some point, you look at yourself in the mirror and go why?” Emerson said. “At some point, someone’s got to fight for us, or we’re just going to leave.”

“You’ve got parents that don’t want to bring their kids, because you got people basically have pornographic signage,” Glenn added. “Screaming we’re all going to Hell.”

We reached out to Council Member Virgi Lindsay who represents Fondren, but we have not heard back. Businesses credited her in the past helping pass ordinances to control these rowdy people, but they’re always overturned.

“You have the city council who is sticking up for us, and you haven’t even seen the M=nayor come out here,” Emerson. “Why don’t they come out here and listen to that while they have lunch? I promise you, because they don’t want to hear it just like we don’t.”

When we asked Jackson police if they’ve taken notice of this harassment or what people can do, they responded, “any person assaulted can fill out an affidavit to press charges against someone then file with a judge.”

We also spoke to a lone anti-abortion protestor outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization Wednesday who echoed similar concerns about these certain people known on YouTube as the “Church in the Wilderness,” and most in their cause have no affiliation with them.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.