MT. JULIET, Tenn. – Two women and one man from Michigan are among a group of people who are being charged for physically standing in front of the doors of a Tennessee clinic to stop a woman from getting an abortion, according to officials.
Heather Idoni, of Fenton; Caroline Davis, 24, of Macomb; and Calvin Zastrow, 57, of Kawkawlin; are three of 11 people charged in an indictment filed Oct. 3 in the Middle District of Tennessee.
Officials said Chester Gallagher, of Tennessee, promoted a series of anti-abortion events on social media in February 2021. The events were scheduled for March 4-7, 2021, in the Nashville area, according to the indictment.
Gallagher used the term “rescue” when describing a physical blockade of a healthcare clinic in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.
In mid-February 2021, Gallgher and Idoni used Facebook to coordinate travel and logistics for Idoni, Davis, Zastrow, Dennis Green, of Virginia, and others to go to Nashville.
Gallagher and Idoni also used Facebook to identify blockade participants who would be willing to risk arrest for their cause, court records show.
Davis used Facebook to tell Coleman Boyd, of Mississippi, that she would meet him for a “rescue” in Tennessee in March, according to officials. She met him and others in Mt. Juliet on March 4, police said.
Idoni, Zastrow, Davis, Boyd, and Green were among those who traveled to the clinic from out of state.
Blockade live streams
On March 4, Boyd advertised the blockade on his social media account, saying, “Lord willing, our family will be doing a Facebook Live of some ministry activities tomorrow morning around 7:45 a.m. Central Time. Please be in prayer towards this. Please plan to join us and share it if possible.”
He stood in the hallway outside the clinic at 7:45 a.m. March 5, 2021, and created a Facebook Live stream called, in part, “Mt. Juliet, TN rescue,” authorities said.
Idoni, Zastrow, Gallagher, and Paul Vaughn, of Tennessee, were among the participants who gathered in the hallway outside the clinic’s doors at 7:45 a.m. -- 15 minutes ahead of the clinic’s opening, officials said.
Zastrow and Gallagher stood directly in front of the clinic’s main entry door as Boyd began his Facebook Live stream.
The indictment says Green began a Facebook Live stream of his own at 7:51 a.m. He recorded himself entering the building and riding up the elevator to the floor of the clinic with Davis and others, court records show.
About six minutes into Boyd’s live stream, Davis, Green, and others showed up in front of the clinic’s doors. They also assumed positions blocking the main door, officials said.
Patient, employee blocked from entering clinic
A patient showed up at the clinic with one companion for a scheduled appointment and encountered Boyd next to the only hallway that leads to the entrance, according to authorities.
Boyd asked the woman several questions, including whether she was “trying to come to the abortion mill,” officials said. The woman responded and walked away, but Boyd asked, “Can we talk to you for a minute?”
Police said Boyd encouraged one of his children to approach the woman. His child asked the woman and her companion if they were “looking for the abortion clinic.”
Officials said the woman and her companion walked into the crowded hallway but stopped short of the clinic entrance. Boyd live streamed the woman while she spoke to a clinic employee, and he told his audience that she was a “mom coming to kill her baby,” the indictment reads.
When the employee returned to the clinic staff door, Zastrow physically blocked it and refused to move. He acknowledged that he was trespassing, authorities said.
The employee eventually left the building.
Shortly after 8 a.m. March 5, Gallagher posted a Facebook Live stream titled, “RESCUE.” He announced that he, Zastrow, and another person were “leading a rescue,” officials said.
Gallagher said the “rescuers” were “willing to be incarcerated” in order to “rescue families from this place of destruction.”
During the live stream, Gallagher said a successful “rescue” meant delaying patients from receiving abortions.
Officials said Gallagher announced to Idoni, Davis, Zastrow, Vaughn, and Green that, “It’s very important that if you’re not planning on being arrested, do not sit in front of the door, do not get pictured blocking the door. I just don’t want anybody having their picture taken sitting in front of the door unless you’re being arrested. Otherwise, just stand up and be in the hallway.”
Idoni, Davis, Zastrow, Green, and others used their bodies to block the clinic’s doors after Gallagher’s announcement, according to authorities. Boyd remained at the opposite end of the hallway to live stream the events.
When Mt. Juliet Police Department officers arrived and told everyone in the hallway to leave, Gallagher told Idoni, Davis, Zastrow, Vaughn, and Green that “we’re at the point now where we need to know who is going to jail and who is not.”
Idoni, Davis, Zastrow, Green, and others continued to block the doors, police said.
At some point, Gallagher announced to Idoni, Davis, Zastrow, Vaughn, and Green that “we have two doors to block.” Vaughn told Gallagher and others that officers were soon going to start making arrests after a final warning.
Gallagher explained to his Facebook Live audience that Vaughn was interacting with officers and “trying to buy us as much time as we can.”
Police said Gallagher was standing next to Idoni, Davis, Green, and others while telling his Facebook Live audience that the blockade had “already turned away one couple” and hoped to “stop as many murderous appointments as we can.”
The indictment accuses Idoni, Davis, Zastrow, Gallagher, Boyd, Vaughn, Green, Eva Edl, of South Carolina, Eva Zastrow, of Arkansas, James Zastrow, of Missouri, and Paul Place, of Tennessee, of aiding and abetting each other to intentionally obstruct, injure, intimidate, and interfere with the patient, employee, and others by force.
They did so because the patient was seeking and the clinic was providing reproductive health services, the indictment reads.