Hawley Demands Answers from Garland after FBI Arrests Pro-Life Activist in ‘SWAT-Style’ Raid

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) wrote a letter to attorney general Merrick Garland on Monday demanding answers after the FBI arrested a Catholic pro-life activist in Pennsylvania last week using “SWAT-style tactics — while letting actual terrorist acts like firebombings go unpunished.”

Mark Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told Catholic News Agency that a “SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door” on Friday to arrest her husband after he allegedly physically assaulted a 72-year-old Planned Parenthood clinic escort in October 2021.

The Planned Parenthood clinic escort was attempting to escort two patients exiting the Philadelphia clinic when Houck allegedly “forcefully shoved” him to the ground, according to the Justice Department. On a separate occasion, Houck allegedly verbally confronted the escort and shoved him to the ground outside the clinic. The escort sustained injuries that required medical attention.

However, Houck’s wife told LifeSiteNews that her husband spoke outside of abortion clinics every Wednesday and sometimes brought their 12-year-old son. She said that her husband shoved the clinic escort after he invaded their son’s personal space and said obscene things about her husband.

“Not only did your office turn a local dispute into a national case, but the FBI reportedly executed the search warrant in as extreme a manner as one can imagine,” Hawley wrote in his letter to Garland. “Reports state that the FBI sent as many as 20 to 25 agents to conduct the arrest. And the FBI allegedly arrest Houck at gunpoint early in the morning in front of his seven children.”

He added: “To say the least, using this kind of force to make an arrest for a single charge of simple assault is unprecedented.”

However, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Philadelphia field office told Fox News that the SWAT claims are “inaccurate.”

The spokesperson said: “No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved. FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as FBI agents and asked him to exit the residence. He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment.” 

A senior FBI source reportedly told the outlet that there were not 25 agents at the arrest, but there may have been as many as 15 to 20 agents and that those who came to the family’s door had guns out and at the ready, but they were never pointed at Houck or his family and were lowered or holstered after he was taken into custody.

Houck has been charged with violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which “prohibits violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain or provide reproductive health services,” according to the Department of Justice. Violating the FACE Act is federal offense.

Houck’s wife told LifeSiteNews that the Planned Parenthood escort previously tried to sue her husband but the District Court in Philadelphia dismissed the case this summer.

Hawley called the reports of Houck’s arrest “especially shocking” given that the DOJ “has so far turned a blind eye to the epidemic of violence across the country by pro-abortion extremists against pregnancy resource centers, houses of worship, and pro-life Americans — violent acts that are prohibited by the very same laws under which you are charging Mark Houck.”

The Missouri Republican notes that the Family Research Council has counted at least 104 incidents of extremist violence against pregnancy resource centers, churches, and pro-life Americans since the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion on May 2, including fire-bombings and arsons.

“Despite my repeated requests, you still have not identified a single prosecution the Department of Justice has taken in response to this epidemic of violence against pro-life Americans,” Hawley wrote.

He concludes his letter by calling on Garland to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his “selective use and apparent political weaponization of the FACE Act.”

Hawley also gave Garland ten days to answer three questions: “Why were 20-25 armed FBI agents sent to Mark Houck’s home to execute an arrest for alleged simple assault,” “why did those agents have their guns drawn,” and “since May 3, 2022, how many charges has your department brought against pro-abortion extremists who have attacked pregnancy resource centers, churches, and pro-life Americans?”

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