-from Riley Ruiz, an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider
On August 13th, 2014, I along with ten other Abortion Rights Freedom Riders, got arrested for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, blocking traffic, in front of Rick Perry’s mansion.
As we walked across the street and took our positions, I thought about all the women who have died, all the women forced into motherhood, all the women shamed for having abortions, all the women kept silent. I remembered the story of a woman from San Antonio, who was raped, and forced to bear a child against her will, then forced into prostitution to survive, suffering for 35 years. I remembered the story of a woman who traveled to Europe alone, and was raped, became pregnant, and considered suicide as a reasonable way out. These stories were just some of the many that were told at our People’s Hearings; they represent the huge stakes in this fight over whether half of humanity will be free to determine their own futures, and they will stay with me forever.
As cars began to pile up, and people on the sidewalk gathered and filmed, I felt more and more emboldened. The cars began honking, and we chanted louder. People came out of their cars shouting at us, one car nearly hit one of us, but we were not deterred. We stood strong for nearly 10 minutes. Many people watching from the sidelines were in awe, and some were moved to tears. People participated in all kinds of ways, giving us water as we sizzled on the hot pavement, talking to and filming the police to make sure they didn’t get totally out of line, and doing interviews responding to the action. It was so compelling, what we did, that people stayed and watched the entire thing unfold, until every single one of us was put into the police trucks.
When the cops gave us a countdown before they began their arrests, not one of us flinched. It took them quite a while to cuff all of us, and all the while we did mic checks, talking about the dark ages agenda that Rick Perry is fighting for, the fact that if HB2 holds it will result in the foreclosure of women’s lives as well as women dying from self induced abortions, and chanted things like “1, 2, 3, 4 Abortion is worth fighting for! 5, 6, 7, 8 Women’s lives are what’s at stake!” and, “Come on, come on and join the fight! Abortion is a basic right!” Our voices were giving out, the pavement was searing hot, and the police dragged us away one by one, but there was NEVER a moment where we lost our energy and determination. We were charged the entire time, knowing we were acting for millions.