NRL News

Jane’s Revenge vandals will be held accountable

by | Jul 3, 2024

By Jorge Gomez, First Liberty

Good news! We recently reached a favorable settlement for our clients at Heartbeat of Miami, a faith-based ministry that provides life-affirming services and support to women and couples facing unplanned pregnancies in Hialeah, Florida.

While we cannot publicly discuss the specifics of the settlement quite yet, the vandals associated with Jane’s Revenge who sought to injure, intimidate and interfere with access to Heartbeat of Miami, and several Florida pregnancy resource centers, will be held to account.

Last year, First Liberty and volunteer attorneys from Lawson Huck Gonzalez filed a federal lawsuit seeking to hold accountable the individuals who defaced and spray-painted threatening messages on Heartbeat’s property. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also filed suit, which included assessing $170,000 in penalties against each defendant, under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act on behalf of several life-affirming reproductive health facilities in the Sunshine State. It’s the first instance of a state attorney general using the FACE Act to hold violent protestors accountable. The U.S. Department of Justice also filed criminal charges against them under the FACT Act.

“This case is a reminder that no one should suffer violence for simply providing faith-based counseling and baby supplies to women and their babies,” said First Liberty Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys.

We are grateful to Attorney General Moody’s leadership in protecting Florida’s religious and pro-life community. Together with our lawsuit, this sends a clear message: those who resort to violence will face the legal penalties for their crimes.

Pregnancy resource centers are charitable organizations often motivated by their religious beliefs to help pregnant mothers and families choose life. They care for parents by distributing free diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, blankets and clothing. Many offer programs that equip new parents facing the important job of raising their children. Others offer free screenings for STDs, along with free pregnancy tests, medical consultations and professional counseling.

Despite their tremendous work, hundreds of these facilities have been vandalized dating back to the leak of the Dobbs v Jackson draft opinion in May 2022.

After that leak, vandals associated with Jane’s Revenge began attacking faith-based pregnancy resource centers across the nation. They spray-painted threatening messages such as “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” fire-bombed buildings, broke windows, doxxed the staff, board and volunteers of pregnancy resource centers, and disrupted private events in an effort to intimidate staff and interfere with clients seeking to access their free services.

First Liberty’s lawsuit claimed that Caleb Freestone and Amber Marie Smith-Stewart, as representatives of Jane’s Revenge, vandalized Heartbeat’s building with spray-painted threats on July 3, 2022.  Annarella Rivera then allegedly joined Caleb Freestone on September 17, 2022 to hack their way onto Heartbeat’s guest list, giving them access to Heartbeat’s annual gala where they shouted obscenities, disparaged Heartbeat’s staff, volunteers and supporters, and leafletted the venue with propaganda.

On January 18, 2023, a federal grand jury issued a criminal indictment against Freestone and Smith-Stewart.

In our country, people of all faiths should be free to peacefully live out their beliefs, and no organization should be attacked because of its religious beliefs about life. Violence against faith-based groups that care for the most vulnerable is appalling. Everyone who cherishes freedom and civility should reject such attacks.

First Liberty will keep fighting so that religious groups, houses of worship and all Americans can practice their faith without fear of having their property vandalized.

Editor’s note. This first appeared at First Liberty and republished with permission.

Categories: Crime