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Archive for Friday, August 10, 2001

Protest-related costs for city total $32,000

Summer of Mercy Renewal tab well below 1991 expenses for Wichita

August 10, 2001

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— The city's expenses for July's weeklong abortion protests totaled $32,000, a small fraction of the price for the "Summer of Mercy" demonstrations a decade ago.

"I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the numbers," Mike Taylor, the city's spokesman, said after Wichita officials released a report Wednesday.

Five people were arrested last month as the group Operation Save America marched, prayed and picketed outside an abortion clinic and other sites around Wichita.

The demonstrations were billed as the "Summer of Mercy Renewal," marking the anniversary of 46 days of protests led by Operation Rescue in 1991.

Those protests concluded with more than 2,700 arrests and cost the city about $800,000.

"What that really points to is the fact that the Police Department did a superb job in planning and preparing for the protesters and how it would be handled," Taylor said. "Plus, with the exception of four or five people, virtually everyone out there obeyed the law."

The bill includes $18,267 by police for overtime, equipment and supplies.

"We wished we wouldn't have had to spend that money, but if that's the cost of insuring everyone's rights, it's worth every penny," said Deputy Police Chief Stephen Cole.

Other costs included $4,730 incurred by the Wichita Transit Authority for shuttling officers to and from the protest site; $3,593 by the Fire Department for overtime and ice; and $2,068 by the Public Works Department for setup and removal of snow fences and barricades used to control access to the areas south of Kellogg, near Women's Health Care Services. The clinic is one of the few in the country to perform late-term abortions.

In addition, the city's legal department spent $2,193 in legal fees, and the municipal court spent $1,029 for standby pay and additional supplies and printing documents.

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