Anti-abortion protesters stood with large, graphic signs at three different locations around the Manual-Noe campus on Friday morning while handing out pamphlets and interacting with students and parents.
Principal Jerry Mayes said that when he arrived at 7 a.m., some of the protesters were standing on school property, which violates district policy.
“Myself and Mr.Kuhn moved them to the public sidewalk” where they are allowed to protest, Mayes said.
Mayes also said he didn’t think the protesters were singling out Manual for any particular reason.
“It’s a downtown location by the University of Louisville with high visibility,” Mayes said.
Assistant Principal Greg Kuhn confirmed that some of the protesters were on school grounds.
“We got a radio call saying some people were protesting out front, so Mr. Burton wanted to make sure they were off campus,” Kuhn said, “About three or four minutes after that, I turned around and, on the far end of the practice field off of Ray Baer (Boulevard), I saw a group of people I didn’t recognize.”
Kuhn said he had to get them off the school property.
“They were on school property at that point and they were getting ready to position themselves, so I walked up to them and told them this was school property, and if you’re going to do this you have to be off school property,” Kuhn said.
According to Mr. Kuhn, Assistant Principal Vicki Lete was at the corner of 2nd Street and Lee Street with another group of protesters to make sure they stayed off school property.
The protesters gave out informational pamphlets that called abortion and homosexuality a sin.
Kuhn said that some students told him that the protesters said some things that made them uncomfortable.
Gabe Weber (11, MST) said he drove past the protesters this morning.
“I support their free speech and what they were trying to do. I get that, but I do not want someone forcing their beliefs and opinions on me,” Weber said.
One group of protesters held up posters with graphic images on them.
Saralee Renick (11, HSU) had to walk by the protestors to get to school.
“They tried to hand me a flyer but I just swerved out of the way because that was not something I wanted to be near,” Renick said. “When I was walking by, I kept my head down, and when I looked up I saw a bloody fetus on a poster at like 7:15 in the morning.”
Jordan Grantz (11, J&C) walked to school after being dropped off in the morning.
“When I was walking past the protesters to get into school, they were there holding up their signs with mutilated baby body parts on them,” Grantz said. “They weren’t directly saying anything but the signs were definitely graphic.”
“I was very worried for any middle school students who saw the posters,” Renick said.
Mayes said that this is not something new and he thinks it will happen again.
“We’ve had this happen before. Some people from religious orginizations tried to come in and pass out flyers and we’ve had to move them as well,” Mayes said.
Mayes and Manual’s security guard Ed Burton saw this as a safety issue.
“I tell my staff as soon as you see something like this, address it right away,” Mayes said.
Mr. Burton thought the protesters should not have bothered JCPS students.
“If they wanted to protest abortion they should’ve gone to the federal building,” Burton said. “I talked to one of the gentlemen in the back, and I didn’t have a problem with his protest, but told him to stay away from my children which developed into a shouting match until they eventually moved.”