BURKE, Va. - It’s a new twist on anti-abortion activism – protesters are stationing themselves outside of schools in the D.C. region with graphic posters and with cameras to record their interactions with students, and then posting them online.
The activists were outside Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia this week. Students as young as 12 years old attend the school.
”You’re just getting out of school, you don’t want see all these disgusting pictures of dead children,” said Alan Baine, a junior student at Lake Braddock.
He says the activists were unavoidable as he walked home from school. He tried not to look at the signs or the man wearing a GoPro camera.
“I just think it’s a little bit weird that they were trying to videotape a bunch of kids, especially about abortion,” said Baine. “None of us, I think, even think about that kind of stuff yet.”
His mother says she was angry to learn her son was recorded.
“I am not against protesting,” said Shannon LaPlant. “Protest all you want to. Just leave my minor child out of it.”
LaPlant says she doesn’t appreciate activists discussing abortion with her child.
“I don’t think it was right for them to step up and take my place to discuss such a sensitive topic,” she said.
The video from Tuesday has not been posted yet, but a video made last year at the school shows an activist arguing with students and asking them why they want to “kill babies.”
Videos online show students from T.C. Williams, George Mason, James Madison and Walter Johnson high schools.
Jonathan Darnel was at Lake Braddock on Tuesday. He is the main contact for the group called D.C. Area Anti-Abortion Advocacy.
“I don’t think that when analyzing it, it’s something anybody should really be troubled by,” Darnel said of the videos of students. “Merely having a picture appear online is not an infringement on somebody’s privacy or rights.”
He says the videos are meant to help other activists engage with the public and that members of his group don’t go to elementary schools.
FOX 5 questioned Darnel about why he is making decisions for other people’s children and determining the right age for a child to see graphic images.
“All we are doing is practicing our First Amendment rights out in public,” he told FOX 5. “We always stay on the public sidewalks. That is what they are for.”
He says he believes what they are doing is appropriate, even for 12-year-old children.
“I don’t think people that are younger, simply because they are minors, are incapable of learning about truth,” Darnel said.
Fairfax County police were called to Lake Braddock Secondary School on Tuesday. While officers made sure activists were off school property, police say protesters have every right to be on public sidewalks.