North Carolina Rev. Phillip “Flip” Benham’s wild-west antics earned him two years probation yesterday after a judge convicted him for stalking an abortion doctor. Leader of the “unashamedly” Christian, anti-abortion group Operation Save America, Benham distributed old-West style “Wanted” posters earlier this year that “included the names, addresses and photos of four Charlotte, N.C., doctors who perform abortions.” While Benham claimed his actions were protected by the First Amendment, he violated a new North Carolina law meant to protect citizens from being targeted by “a lone-wolf assailant”:
Benham and his group took the posters to the doctors’ offices and to their neighborhoods. They placed the posters on cars and tacked them up on doors.Detective Milton Harris with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department says this violated the state’s new law against targeting an individual at his home.
“By them handing out the flyers with doctors’ photos on it, it was an indication to us that they were actually singling those doctors out within that residential neighborhood to protest,” Harris says.
He also says that this is the first prosecution under the new law.
“The purpose of the law is to protect that person’s identity against basically a lone-wolf assailant coming in there and possibly doing harm to that individual or that family,” Harris says.
Aware the well-documented history of murders, shootings, bombings, arson, acid attacks, and anthrax threats against doctors who provide abortions, one of the doctors targeted by the posters said he “fears for his life.” The doctor at the trial believed the poster was a “call for my murder” and said he now “gets down on his hands and knees to make certain there are no bombs under his car.” Benham, however, “denies the posters are a threat” and claims “they’re a tool to inform the community” that the doctor “kills babies…for a living” and has “no respect for life of children in the safety and neighborhoods of their mothers’ wombs.” Still, while doctors and the judicial system view him as a threat, Benham can rest comfortably knowing that his followers still view him as the pro-life “Robin Hood.”
See below for the “Wanted” poster: