More than 1,000 dinner guests attended the 28th annual Right to Life dinner at the Indianapolis Convention Center on Tuesday. But so did a small contingent of 11 protesters, who set up shop on the corner of Capitol and Maryland, neon signs held high.
The demonstrators, an energetic assortment of students and community leaders, were protesting the event’s featured speaker, Lila Rose, a UCLA student activist who founded LiveAction, a pro-life organization geared toward her peers.
While the protestors were representing the National Organization for Women (NOW), not all of them claimed allegiance to the group.
Weston Bonczek, a junior at Butler University, falls into the latter category and attended the event because he believed doing so embodied “sticking up for what is right.”
Despite the controversial nature of the subject, Bonczek said that the group had received “a lot of really positive support,” adding that many people honked and waved in solidarity as they drove by.
The honking and waving of passing cars was part of the organized chaos that permeated the protest. The demonstrators, lead by NOW member Katie Blair, chanted their message at a deafening volume while they waved their signs, whooping and cheering at every display of support.
At 6:30, the demonstrators folded up their signs after 90 minutes of protesting and headed home. “Thank you all for your help! You’re awesome!” Blair shouted with a wave as she left.
Although the NOW protestors dispersed before the Right to Life dinner actually began, their presence did not go unnoticed.
“Michael Reagan didn’t get any protestors!” Pat Sullivan, the evening’s MC, joked as he introduced Lila Rose to the assembled crowd.
Rose herself was not quite as gracious, managing to slide in an ironic dig comparing the size of the Right to Life dinner with the “maybe 11 protestors outside.”
Dinner guest Sandy Williams, a 68-year-old Indianapolis native, was also less than pleased with the protestors she encountered on her way into the building.
“I guess they have a right to [protest],” she said, “but it’s hard not to be prejudiced or biased.”
Protestor Morgan Humphrey, 25, realizes the conflicting viewpoints NOW is up against and acknowledges that the chances of the protest changing the mind of anyone who was attending the Right to Life event are slim to none.
“However,” she added, “to the general population, our presence opens up the issue for discussion.”