The following comes from a February 5 story in the San Mateo Daily Journal.
Abortion foe Ross Foti claims he was assaulted by a volunteer escort at the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Mateo yesterday morning as he was passing out leaflets to a patient.
Since police, however, did not witness the incident at the Baywood Avenue clinic, Foti called on the powers of citizen’s arrest to have the volunteer cited.
The volunteer then returned the favor and had Foti cited using the same powers of citizen’s arrest.
The infractions are likely misdemeanors and police are not sure yet how the cases will unfold or whether either party will ultimately be charged by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” a San Mateo police official told the Daily Journal yesterday.
Foti, famous for driving a vehicle with posters of aborted fetuses prominently displayed on the sides, is a regular protester at the clinic with an intent to deter women from getting abortions.
He’s been successfully battling Planned Parenthood since 1992 in court for his right to display his signs and picket in front of clinics all over the Bay Area.
Yesterday morning, he handed a leaflet to a woman in her car when the volunteer approached him and allegedly bumped into him, Foti told the Daily Journal.
“She rammed me in the chest and I have a witness,” said Foti, whose niece was also on the scene.
Foti, 79, then called the San Mateo Police Department to report the incident.
Foti’s insistence that the woman be arrested for assault, however, ended up getting him arrested, too.
He is not sure what he was arrested for, though.
“I have a long piece of paper saying I was arrested and released into my own recognizance but it doesn’t say what I’m arrested for,” Foti said. “Who is her witness?”
Video from a nearby surveillance camera should confirm the story, Foti said.
“If I would have assaulted her, I would have been arrested, case closed,” he said.
Foti’s been picketing at the clinic since it opened and was hit with four infractions last March by San Mateo police for displaying signs in violation of municipal code while he protested outside the clinic.
He was hit with similar infractions in late 2011 for the same offenses — displaying signs too big, too close together and on public property.
Planned Parenthood relies on volunteer clinic volunteers to help get patients to the door with as little harassment as possible.
Foti, a Belmont resident, is no stranger to the courts, as he has fought for years to maintain his First Amendment rights to free speech.
“I don’t want trouble. I just want to exercise my First Amendment rights,” he said.
So ardent in his beliefs, the devoted Catholic was even once banned from attending mass at St. Matthew Catholic Church in San Mateo for refusing to cover the signs on the large truck he uses to demonstrate.
Officials at the Baywood clinic could not be reached for comment yesterday.
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