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Finally, Victory in Waco!

Finally, Victory in Waco! This battle began during our “Walk Across America” tour in 2004.  Rusty and I were on the road and the pastors in Waco stood tall for King Jesus in Rusty's absence.  Today, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court has finally ruled in favor of those faithful Christians in Waco, who have been ever so vigilant to stand in the gap on behalf of preborn babies and their moms and dads.  The late Liz Thomas, Rusty's wife and mother of his ten children, was one of those who stood in the face of this unconstitutional city ordinance.  The devil roared and she never flinched!  Well done good and faithful servant!  Well done, Waco Pastors!  Well done, Rusty! 


See Rusty Thomas's response below article

City crafting street ordinance in fight with abortion foes

Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald  

About two dozen anti-abortion demonstrators regularly protest as clients head into the Planned Parenthood facility at 1927 Columbus Ave. The Audre Rapoport Women's Health Center is within the school zone for the Waco Montessori School, which sits across and down the street.

Waco-area anti-abortion activists are crowing about their "final victory" in two court cases concerning enforcement of a February 2004 city ordinance, but city officials say the fight isn't over.

City crafting new street ordinance in fight with abortion foes

Thursday, October 12, 2006
By Terri Jo Ryan
Tribune-Herald staff writer

Waco-area anti-abortion activists are crowing about their “final victory” in two court cases concerning enforcement of a February 2004 city ordinance, but city officials say the fight isn't over.

City Attorney Art Pertile said the city next week will again take up the challenge to protesters' activities near schools.

The Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas of Elijah Ministries said Wednesday that the city withdrew from its final appeal in a state criminal case against protesters arrested in March 2004 and agreed to pay $30,000 in attorney fees to the litigants in a federal civil rights suit filed in July 2004.

Thomas said that after years of legal wrangling, city officials have ended their “vain pursuit” against anti-abortion activists and ended “their tyrannical quest” to censor demonstrators against Planned Parenthood of Central Texas.

But Pertile said late Wednesday that he will present a revised parade ordinance to the Waco City Council at its work session at 3 p.m. Tuesday before a formal vote that evening. The redrafted ordinance will seek to more narrowly define its restrictions in an attempt to conform to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court's ruling in August in the federal civil rights suit, he said.

Pertile declined to reveal any details of his proposal before he speaks to the council. City Manager Larry Groth referred questions back to Pertile.

On Feb. 3, 2004, the Waco City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting “street activity and parades” within school zones during certain hours. City officials said the move was taken with traffic concerns and public safety in mind and was not designed to target any particular group.

But a trio of clergymen — the Rev. John Collier of Parkview Baptist Church, the Rev. Ronnie Holmes of Bellmead's Church of the Open Door and the Rev. John Wachsmann of Church on the Rock in North Waco — and more than a dozen followers challenged the ordinance a month later and were cited for a sidewalk prayer service. They contended the new law was aimed at muzzling their free speech.

About two dozen anti-abortion demonstrators regularly protest as clients head into the Planned Parenthood facility at 1927 Columbus Ave. , beginning about 7 a.m. each Wednesday. That's the day each week when abortions are performed at the Audre Rapoport Women's Health Center — which is within the school zone for the Waco Montessori School .

Holmes said Wednesday that resolution of the federal case was “further vindication that the stance we'd taken initially was correct all along.”

“I hope the city has learned its lesson,” he said.

The Center for Law and Policy, legal arm of the American Family Association, sued the city in July 2004 on behalf of anti-abortion activists who said the ordinance was unconstitutional. The Tupelo, Miss.-based organization is affiliated with the Rev. Don Wildmon.

Eighteen people — one pled guilty and paid the fine — were tried and convicted in municipal court in August 2004 for violating the city ordinance. The defendants appealed and were tried in county court in February 2005 when McLennan County Court-at-Law Judge Thomas Ragland declared the city's street activity ordinance unconstitutional and dismissed the charges.

The city appealed the dismissal to the 10th Court of Appeals. The appeals court also dismissed the case, so the city appealed to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals.

In September 2006, the Criminal Court of Appeals sent the case back to Waco's 10th Court of Appeals. Shortly thereafter, Thomas said, Pertile's office informed demonstrators the city was withdrawing its appeal altogether.

Meanwhile, in July 2004, AFA filed a federal civil rights suit against the city of Waco on behalf of Carolyn Knowles and Joe Rodriguez Jr., challenging the constitutionality of Waco 's street activity and parade ordinances.

In January 2005, the U.S. District Court in Austin ruled in favor of the city. The AFA then appealed the case to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans .

A three-judge panel ruled in late August that the city ordinance unconstitutionally infringed on the rights of demonstrators to peaceably assemble and exercise their free speech rights in a public forum. The court also held that the city's ordinances were not “narrowly tailored to serve the interests of the city,” which were stated to be the safety of children and other citizens on the streets.

This month, AFA senior litigation counsel Michael DePrimo reported to his clients that the city agreed to pay $30,000 in attorney fees on the federal suit.

“I doubt there will be any further appeal,” he added.

Holmes voiced satisfaction in the victories over City Hall, however temporary.

“Religious liberty is allowed in the streets of Waco, Texas — at least for now,” he said.


Response by Rusty Thomas

Regardless of how the press has spinned this, I assure you that no one from our side is "crowing" or gloating over the court victories that have been hard fought for religious freedom, our First Amendment rights, and our commitment to present the Gospel of the Kingdom at the gates of hell located at our local death camp at Planned Parenthood.

Apparently, the city of Waco is determined to continue pursuing being the personal security guards for Planned Parenthood at taxpayer's expense. This is a travesty and they need to desist at once. They need to know we will never surrender the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood, school, or other public venues to preach the word of God.  No matter what the cost or the kind of new ordinance they seek to craft, we will continue to stand for the truth.  It is not for sale, non-negotiable, and we will never give it up in Jesus' Mighty Name!

Church in Waco and beyond, Goliath is raising his ugly head again.  He continues to roar "the fight is not over."  If we falter and do not stand to resist this tyranny, we forfeit our rights, duties, and future generation's freedoms.  For God's sake for our posterities sake stand with us and and be ready to join in the fray if need be.  Is there not a cause!?