Abortion protesters visit Tacoma school where dispute had flared

Tacoma News TribuneFebruary 26, 2014 

Students leaving campus for the day at Tacoma's Wilson High School were greeted by five people holding graphic photos of aborted fetuses Wednesday afternoon.

The Bremerton chapter of the Anti-Choice Project came to Wilson after hearing a student anti-abortion club recently had two of its posters banned by school officials.

"We're here because abortion is here," said group member Tom Herring.

The group chose to hold up the posters despite being told by the Tacoma School District that the school and members of the student club had reached an agreement on what posters were allowed on school grounds.

"The fact is, they did censor the kids by pulling down two posters about abortion," Herring said.

Students passed by making fake gagging faces, while others yelled "gross," when they saw the anti-abortion posters at the school's Orchard Street entrance.

After snapping photos with their phones, it didn't take long for a group of about 15 students to approach two female demonstrators and ask why they were there.

"Obviously anybody is allowed to voice their opinion," said 18-year-old Zoe Wickline. "I feel like the whole thing is blown out of proportion."

Students engaged in a civilized dialogue with the Anti-Choice members, asking educated questions and voicing opinions of their own.

Not too far a way, a handful of administrators and Tacoma Police school patrol and the school resource officer kept a watchful eye on the interactions.

Tacoma Public Schools attorney Shannon McMinimee said that Bryce Asberg, the president of the Wilson Student's For Life group, and his parents made it clear they were not connected to Wednesday's event. Asberg posted to the group's social-media site that he didn't want them there.

"The concern that the Wilson Student's For Life president had has been addressed between him, his parents and the administration of the school," McMinimee said. "We're just glad the ultimate conflict was resolved amicably."

The News Tribune plans to speak with Asberg and his family Wednesday afternoon.

The Wilson freshman complained last week that school officials had censored some of his group's posters. McMinimee said many posters were hanging in the school, and that only a handful had been questioned. The district asked that only one poster be altered, she said.

Herring said Wednesday that the group of demonstrators would evaluate whether to return to the school. It was the group's first time in Tacoma. Previously they have held signs in front of high schools in Kitsap County.

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