Dear State Representative Brian Sims — You and I met briefly about three weeks ago when my daughters and I, along with their friend, were outside of the Planned Parenthood at 12th and Locust, quietly praying for an end to abortion in our city.
The three girls deserve your genuine, explicit apology. I believe you know that your actions toward them were inherently wrong. You accosted them and said that they should be ashamed of threatening and attacking young girls trying to enter the clinic. You and I both know that the girls were peacefully standing at the far corner of the property line, praying in a barely audible voice. They were not threatening, and they certainly weren’t attacking anyone or preventing access to the building. In spite of my numerous requests that you speak only to me as the adult, you looked over my shoulder and continued to scold the girls that they were white racists who shouldn’t dare tell women what to do with their bodies. Our dear friend told you several times she wasn’t white, and our purpose there was to pray that women of all races would choose life for their babies because we believe that all human life is sacred and we know that our society is better off with more children of every color walking among us. These girls aren’t racist, Mr. Sims. You devalue the term and cheapen it by using it so egregiously and inappropriately.
I hope you also know that your actions that day were dangerous. When you approached us the second time with your phone and pointed the camera directly at the three girls and in effect tried to doxx them by offering a $100 donation to Planned Parenthood if anyone could provide their identities, you were placing these girls directly in harm’s way. I don’t know what you wanted to do with their personal information. I also don’t know why you thought that in addition to aggressively bullying three female minors you should take matters a step further and intentionally expose them on the internet and impinge their personal safety by erasing the security of relative anonymity. This was a grave misdeed. Their father and I, along with the parents of our friend, will live in constant heightened alert for many weeks and months to come. As parents our primary responsibility is the safety of our children and you have made that job infinitely more challenging.
You should also know that the girls were not intimidated by you. After we left, they saw you berating the kind young gentleman who respectfully removed his hat to speak with you. All three girls told me we should go back and stand with him. They didn’t want him to have to endure your bullying alone. I was glad to leave and put an ugly incident behind us — it was the 13-year-old and two 15-year-old girls who wanted to return and face you again for the sake of standing in solidarity with a gentle comrade.
Finally, Mr. Sims, as an elected official you need to apologize for trying to stop the girls from exercising their First Amendment right to express their faith through speech. It was 232 years ago when the Constitutional Convention enshrined our rights as American citizens in our beloved and iconic Independence Hall. Those rights aren’t theories or hypotheticals. They are specifically enumerated guarantees. It’s your job to protect and uphold those rights for all citizens, including beautifully courageous and kind teenage girls.
Mr. Sims, you said you wanted to do better for the women of Pennsylvania. I take you at your word, and I forgive you. I’m now asking you to do the right thing by being accountable for your actions and making a genuine, explicit apology to my daughters and their friend. They don’t need anything from you, but they certainly deserve it.