by Steven Ertelt
September 11, 2009
Owosso, MI (LifeNews.com) -- Jim Pouillon was known as the sign guy by resident of this otherwise sleepy local community 45 minutes northeast of Lansing, Michigan. But Pouillon was shot Friday morning as he did what he did best -- hold his pro-life sign outside of a local high school letting students and teaching know some of their peers are missing.
Cal Zastrow, a longtime pro-life advocate in Michigan knew Pouillon well, calling him a "close friend" and said he "got his martyr's crown this morning" after suffering multiple gunshots and claimed his life.
"I talked to him on the phone this week and prayed with him before he went out to Owosso High School to minister," he said.
While Pouillon was active in protesting abortion -- and his death will bring up the issue of abortion and violence again in the wake of the shooting of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller -- he always condemned violence as a solution to the violence of abortion.
"Jim was completely non-violent and he condemned violence," Zastrow said.
Judy Climer, president of Flint Right to Life, described Pouillon to the Flint Journal newspaper as "just a nice, elderly gentleman who was disabled, used an oxygen tank and wore leg braces."
Climber said he would regularly visit abortion businesses in Flint and Saginaw to pray and hold pro-life signs.
"I knew him very well. He told me one time God put in his heart a passion for the little babies that have the right to be born and they were being denied that right," said Climer. "He even told me once he'd be willing to die for that belief. That's what I hear him saying right now."
Pouillon was involved in a pro-life free speech case several years ago that saw him sue local police after he was arrested for “refusing a lawful police order” to move from city hall steps and for “obstructing passage to a public building."
His attorneys filed a lawsuit on his behalf saying police violated his rights to freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, under presiding Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, denied his motion for summary judgment and, after a jury found against him, his renewed motion for judgment.
Pouillon appealed the decision and an appeals court held that the steps of the city hall were a public place and Pouillon was within his First Amendment rights to protest abortion there.
The court eventually upheld a portion of the decision and overturned parts of it.
Steven H. Aden, the senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, represented Pouillon in the case.
“Jim Pouillon was a courageous friend of both unborn children and the First Amendment right to speak up on their behalf, and he will be sorely missed," Aden told LifeNews.com today.
"I hope his loss, and his example, will inspire many others – particularly young people – to take up the cross he bore and defend the right of all of God’s children to live, and to live in peace," he said.
In the legal documents in the case, his attorneys described Pouillon this way: "James Pouillon is a dedicated anti-abortion protester whose non-working life is largely devoted to activism in that cause."
"He was a familiar figure on the streets of Owosso, where he staged abortion protests for a portion of each day almost every weekday for over ten years," they said.
"On the date he was arrested, he had decided to move his protest from his customary post on the sidewalk to a position on a small plaza separating upper and lower short flights of steps to city hall, or on the steps themselves," they added.
"On the sidewalk, he had often been the target of verbal abuse as well as assorted missiles, and had once been almost run down by a motorist who swerved onto the sidewalk and drove straight at him," they concluded.