A dad climbed a bridge to protest the Supreme Court’s decision

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From afar, the protester who stood atop the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in DC on Friday appeared like a dot.

But as the hours passed and social media posts began to appear online, he came into his own and it soon became clear: he was a father concerned about the future of his children. children.

“Okay, I have a life. A job, kids I love, there’s pretty much anywhere I’d rather be than on top of that damn bridge,” Guido Reichstadter job on Twitter. “But I have a responsibility to those I love: get out, stand up and defend their rights. And so do you! So let’s stand up, without violence, for the right to abortion!”

A man climbed to the top of the Frederick Douglass Bridge in DC on June 24 following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down abortion rights. (Video: Sandy Cowell)

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade attracted many people to demonstrate in the nation’s capital on Friday, but none caused such an eye-catching scene as Reichstadter. He scaled the towering arches of the bridge in the morning and remained on that precarious perch as police and onlookers gathered below. He stayed there all Saturday night.

While Reichstadter’s actions may have been extreme, his reasons for taking them are relatable: He’s a parent who cares about the country we’re creating for the next generation. I spoke to the 42 year old on the phone as he stood on this bridge, and he spoke of his two children, a girl and a boy.

“I have a 12-year-old daughter, and I can’t sit still while her future is taken away or all her rights are stripped away,” he said.

Like many parents, he would do anything for his children, he said.

“They are my life,” he said. “I would gladly give my life for them. I find it mind-boggling that fathers can look their daughters in the eye and go about their daily lives while their rights are threatened. … Love is not a name. It’s a verb. And part of that means stepping out of your comfort zone and standing up for the rights of your loved ones when they’re under attack.

Reichstadter said he started climbing the bridge around 9:30 a.m. and plans to stay as long as his body will allow. A challenge as to how long he could stay up there came as soon as he reached the top. He opened his bag and his water bottle dropped and fell to the bottom of the deck.

This accident left him without water as he sat without shade in the sun and at night. It also got him thinking about how the loss of this vital resource was reminiscent of the country’s efforts to secure women’s rights and address the climate crisis. He described both opportunities as slipping away, out of reach.

His hope for climbing the bridge, he said, was that it might get more people thinking about and engaging in nonviolent civil resistance. He hoped to compel people who passively supported abortion rights to action.

“We think of a peaceful protest like holding a sign, doing these one-day marches,” he said. “It’s very good, but it doesn’t do the trick. What the company does is people nonviolently disrupting the workings of government, the workings of the economy, day after day after day, until their needs are met.

From the bridge, he posted on various social media platforms, sharing his thoughts and dizzying views from above.

“If I can get to the top of this bridge forever in love, I know you can do it on the street!” he tweeted Friday. “Let’s shut it down without violence day by day until our rights are protected.” I’ll be here, lots of love to you all!

On Saturday morning he tweeted“Overnight, the bodies and rights of tens of millions of women fell under the power of cruel and violent men, who would see them accused of murder for exercising the right to their own bodies. It is an abomination.

Reichstadter said he came to the nation’s capital from Miami after the Supreme Court ruling leaked a few weeks ago. In protest, on June 6, he wrapped a bicycle lock around his neck and secured it to the fence outside the Supreme Court. The police eventually released him and arrested him. Officials from the two law enforcement agencies that handled the case, the attorney general’s office and the U.S. attorney’s office, said prosecutors have not filed charges against him.

Documentary filmmaker Ford Fischer filmed Reichstadter locking himself up at this fence and interviewing him before his arrest.

In a video of the interview uploaded by Fischer, Reichstadter voices his support for the Rise up 4 Abortion Rights organization and explains how the color green has its roots in the abortion rights movement in Latin America. (From the bridge, he hung a green banner and used a flare to release green smoke.)

In another video posted by Fischer, Reichstadter explains why he came to Washington.

“Really, I’m not, I’m not a radical guy,” he said. “I’m just a father and I can’t sit around while my daughter’s rights are taken away. It’s just amazing to me that the streets aren’t already full of thousands of dads. Really, I can’t believe it. That’s why I have to be here. I can’t be anywhere else. It’s just not an option for me.

When Fischer learned on Friday that a person was standing on a DC bridge, he knew it was Reichstadter. He said Reichstadter mentioned to him that he could hang a banner from a bridge, but Fischer did not expect him to choose one that, with a slip, could kill him.

Looking nervously from below the bridge, Fischer repeatedly called Reichstadter to speak to him.

During a call, he told Reichstadter he hoped he was safe.

“The truth of the matter,” Reichstadter replied, “is that none of us are safe.”

Peter Hermann contributed reporting to this column.

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