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As the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, Florida is a case study in what can happen in states where abortion is easy to access. 

Florida is an unexpected safe haven for people seeking abortions in the South. The state has 55 abortion clinics – more than seven other Southeastern states combined. But Florida is also increasingly an abortion battleground. Reveal found that calls to police from Florida abortion clinics for disturbances, harassment and violence have doubled since 2016.

Reporter Laura C. Morel spent months investigating the anti-abortion movement there and observed what it’s like to be an abortion provider in Jacksonville, where one particular clinic is under siege by a local anti-abortion group that has figured out a way to be near the clinic’s front door. Protesters rented a room in the same office park as A Woman’s Choice and now can legally, without trespassing, hold daily protests and even religious ceremonies on the private driveway that leads to the clinic. “As abortion providers, we should not have to be harassed going to work every day,” clinic owner Kelly Flynn told Morel. “I mean, no one’s picketing the urologist that’s doing vasectomies.” 

For doctors who perform abortions, threats of violence are not new. In the 1980s and ’90s, anti-abortion extremists bombed and blockaded clinics and murdered doctors. We hear from David Gunn Jr., whose father performed abortions and was murdered by a fundamentalist Christian in Pensacola in 1993. His death led to the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it illegal to intimidate patients and staff at abortion clinics through force, threat of force or physical obstruction. But Morel found that this federal law, known as the FACE Act, does little to protect against the kind of harassment and intimidation providers face today. At A Woman’s Choice, only one person – a man who called in a bomb threat – has been prosecuted under the FACE Act. 

What qualifies as “intimidation” varies by state. In California, it’s illegal to photograph patients and staff outside abortion clinics. But at A Woman’s Choice, protesters regularly photograph and film videos of patients, which staffers say makes them feel frazzled and afraid. If Roe v. Wade crumbles, abortion rights advocates warn that  this kind of anti-abortion activism will spread, especially in places where abortion will remain legal.

Dig Deeper

Kelly Flynn stands outside her clinic, A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville in Florida. Credit: Malcolm Jackson for Reveal

Read: Abortion’s Last Stand in the South: A Post-Roe Future Is Already Happening in Florida

Listen: A Strike at the Heart of Roe

Credits

Reporter: Laura C. Morel | Data reporter: Mohamed Al Elew | Producers: Katharine Mieszkowski, Emily Harris and Amy Mostafa | Radio Editor: Cynthia Rodriguez | Digital Editors: Nina Martin and Andy Donohue | Data editor: Soo Oh | Researchers: Decca Muldowney and Soraya Ferdman | Production manager: Amy Mostafa | Fact checker: Nikki Frick | Digital producer: Sarah Mirk | Episode art: Molly Mendoza | Original music and sound design: Jim Briggs and Fernando Arruda, with help from Steven Rascón, Kathryn Styer Martínez and Jess Alvarenga | Executive producer: Kevin Sullivan | Host: Al Letson

Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heising-Simons FoundationDemocracy Fund, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Transcript

Reveal transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. Please be aware that the official record for Reveal’s radio stories is the audio.

Al Letson:From the center for investigative reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. A recent bombshell leak of a draft opinion from the US Supreme Court has opened a new chapter in the battle over abortion in this country.

People were protesting outside the Supreme Court after the leak confirmed what abortion rights advocates had long feared that the court would overturn Roe V. Wade and nearly 50 years of abortion rights. Although the opinion is not final, it sent a signal that the high court will let states set their own laws around abortion. This means abortion could soon become illegal or greatly restricted in dozens of states. Millions of women will be affected and both sides in the debate are gearing up for a fight. For the past several months, we’ve been investigating the rising tensions over abortion rights in Florida. One woman who is in the middle of it all is Kelly Flynn. When she was 19, Kelly turned a personal crisis into her calling.
Kelly Flynn:I was in college. I had a lot of family issues, so I had to come home from school.
Al Letson:Kelly was juggling a lot, working retail, taking classes, and then she and her boyfriend got some unexpected news.
Kelly Flynn:When we found out I was pregnant, I was like, we can’t do this. This is not the time.
Al Letson:So she decided to get an abortion. And then she got pregnant again.
Kelly Flynn:I was that person that people belittle when they say, “Well, don’t you know how this happened the first time? Weren’t you on birth control?” I was on birth control. I was on the samples that the clinic had given me, but I didn’t have any health insurance and I couldn’t afford it.
Al Letson:Those samples would sometimes run out. Money was so tight she couldn’t even afford the extra $35 she said it would cost to be sedated during the procedure.
Kelly Flynn:Well, okay, I have to do this. So no sedation.
Al Letson:Kelly knew she could get through it, but there was another woman at the clinic who was panicking.
Kelly Flynn:The patient was freaking out. And then the girl over in the corner was like, “Girl, this is going to hurt really bad.” And I said, “Stop.” And I said, “Just know that if this is what you want to do, then it’ll be over sooner than later. And the pain will go away and you’ll be fine.” And I talked her through it.
Al Letson:After their procedures, the two women sat together again.
Kelly Flynn:I remember she and I were holding hands in the recovery room together. And all I could tell her was, she’s going to be okay.
Al Letson:The experience of helping that other patient, it led Kelly to her life’s work. She started working at the clinic a couple weeks later.
Kelly Flynn:I fell in love with the job. I felt needed. I felt like I was doing good work without even knowing the scale of the work that I was really doing.
Al Letson:More than 20 years later, Kelly now owns four clinics in the south. She bought the first one with a loan from her mother-in-law when she was just 25 years old. It’s called A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville in Florida. Florida is an unexpected safe haven for abortions in the south. There’s 55 licensed abortion clinics here. That’s more than seven other southeastern states combined, but it’s also been a target of anti-abortion extremism. In the 90s, two Florida abortion doctors were shot dead within two years. That type of violence hasn’t happened here in a long time, but tensions are rising, especially as we wait for a final decision from the Supreme Court that is expected to overturn Roe V. Wade.
Kelly Flynn:I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this is where we are now. I never thought that we would move backwards.
Al Letson:Reveal reporter Laura Morel lives in Florida. She’s been investigating the protest movement there, and she’s found that anti-abortion activists see the state as fertile ground. Here’s Laura.
Laura Morel:I first met Kelly in a Starbucks parking lot when she picked me up in her new SUV on her way to work. How’s your morning going?
Kelly Flynn:It’s good. It’s really busy. My best friend from Virginia Beach has been here most of the month. And so she left this morning.
Laura Morel:Kelly’s a single mom. Lately, she’s been working at home a lot and not just because of COVID.
Kelly Flynn:I already have a little anxiety going in.
Laura Morel:Things are tense here. Clinic staff and protestors call the police on each other for things like being noisy, for trespassing and harassment. It’s gotten so bad, last year, Kelly decided to hire off-duty police officers to regularly patrol her property.
Kelly Flynn:We couldn’t secure an officer today, so we don’t have any backup.
Laura Morel:Kelly says the protesters shout at her and take photos of her license plate. She showed me a video of a protestor hitting her car with a sign. It’s a stressful way to start the work day. I can see Kelly’s hands tighten around the steering wheel as she turns onto the private road that leads to her clinic.
Kelly Flynn:So Wayne is the one with the beard because this is-
Laura Morel:The white beard. Okay.
Kelly Flynn:It’s going to freak him out when we turn back around.
Laura Morel:Kelly’s got a history with Wayne.
Kelly Flynn:I’ve got pictures of him taking pictures of my car, showing my home to one of the officers that worked for me and saying, “Look, it just must be nice that she can live in such a nice home.” And the officer said, “Kelly, he has got it out for you. He just hates you.”
Laura Morel:And one day when there were no officers around.
Kelly Flynn:Wayne approached me. There were no other cars in the parking lot. And I said, “Wayne, you’re trespassing. You’re trespassing. Get off the property.” And he says, “No, I am not trespassing.” He said, “This is the Lord’s property.” And I said, “Okay, Wayne.”
Laura Morel:The fight over abortion may be playing out in the nation’s highest court, but it’s also playing out here in Kelly’s parking lot. I try to talk to Wayne, but he didn’t want to be interviewed. And he told the other protestors not to talk to me either.
Wayne:We don’t need the press. We have Jesus Christ. He’s our press. Don’t say nothing to her. Just pray.
Laura Morel:One woman did talk to me and said she and the others are there for the patients.
Speaker 6:You just want to be here for them. They’re here alone. They’re frightened. They need help. And that’s why we’re here all the time.
Laura Morel:But clinic staff told me that for patients, it feels more like harassment than help. Some walk into the clinic, crying after facing the protestors. They ask if their photos will be posted online. These kinds of confrontations are happening at clinics all over Florida. And sometimes patients get mad.
Speaker 7:So you’re taking a video of my car.
Speaker 8:It says in God we trust.
Laura Morel:She’s talking about the woman’s bumper sticker.
Speaker 7:Okay. So?
Speaker 8:What God do you trust in?
Speaker 7:That means you can take a video of my car.
Speaker 8:It’s public record.
Laura Morel:This video was taken in June of 2020 by an anti-abortion protestor outside a clinic in Tampa. The woman she’s arguing with is walking to her car in a short black dress and big sunglasses.
Speaker 8:Don’t ever come back to this killing place.
Laura Morel:The protester is yelling out the woman’s license plate number and berating her for coming to an abortion clinic.
Speaker 8:Yeah. Are you supposed to be a Christian or something?
Laura Morel:The woman has had enough. She grabs the camera, throws it to the ground, gets in her car and drives away. She’s later charged with criminal mischief. After looking into it, the Hillsborough county state attorney’s office drops the charge and says the protestor was “instigator and aggressor.” These confrontations, they’re more than just cameras thrown on the ground. In 2020, a young man filled two bottles with gasoline, lit them on fire and threw them at a Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers. He pleaded guilty to arson. And a little over a year later, NBC2 news reported that protestors blocked the entrance at that same clinic.
Speaker 9:Deputies had to remove nine people, including four children, who were blocking the entrance. Now the five adults are locked up in the Lee County jail. None of them are from our area.
Laura Morel:They were from all over the country, Tennessee, Michigan, Arkansas, a sign that Florida has become an abortion battleground. Through public records requests, we obtained thousands of calls to the police from abortion clinics across Florida, over six years. And we found that calls related to disturbances, harassment and violence have doubled since 2016. They’re about things like trespassing, harassing phone calls, disorderly conduct, threats, and assault. Sometimes dozens of calls a year originate from a single clinic with the two sides calling 911 on each other. At Kelly’s clinic since 2019, there have been 34 calls.
Speaker 10:Jacksonville 911, what’s the location of your emergence.
Speaker 11:I was just assaulted.
Speaker 10:You need to go-
Laura Morel:In 2021, a volunteer who escorts patients from their cars to Kelly’s clinic entrance was filming the protestors. One of them told her to stop. When she refused, the protestor grabbed her cell phone and tried to push her to the ground. She told a responding officer she hit him back.
Speaker 12:Now I’m not going to lie now. I did punch him in the head when he started attacking me because I’m 100% honest with you.
Laura Morel:The officer didn’t arrest the man who pushed her, but left it up to the escort to pursue charges. The state attorney’s office in Jacksonville said they’re in touch with the escort. For Kelly, these confrontations are exhausting. Just walking from her car into the office is nerve-wracking.
Kelly Flynn:I thought after 23 years of doing this, I would be desensitized to it. When they were on the sidewalk, it was fine because then I felt like I had a safety net.
Laura Morel:What Kelly means is it wasn’t always this way. For many years, the protestors had to stay on the public sidewalk, nearly a block away from the clinic’s front door. And Kelly tried to keep it that way. In 2010, she even bought a building.
Kelly Flynn:There was a dentist office here and he was getting ready to move. And so he came to me directly and said, “Listen, we’re going to sell the building. And I just want to tell you that the antis are looking to buy it.” And I said, “No way.” I said, “Oh my God, what are we going to do?” So I bought it because I didn’t want them to set up right in front of me.
Laura Morel:The protestors continue to chant and sing and pray and discourage patients from coming in. But it was all from a distance. Then a year and a half ago, everything changed. A local anti-abortion activist with some real estate savvy came up with an idea. Her name is Gertrude Perezpoveda. She goes by Trudy. She went through the clinic’s property records online and realized that any tenant in the complex can use the private road that goes right up to the clinic property line. In November 2020, Trudy and the other anti-abortion activists leased a room from a doctor in the medical complex.
Kelly Flynn:They have a standing lease agreement, which gives them access to my easement. And so it’s almost like the walking dead out there. They just walk all through the complex and when patients are coming in. It’s constant.
Laura Morel:Now that the protestors can get so close to Kelly’s clinic, there are more and more confrontations. And that’s what led Kelly to hire more off-duty police officers for security, like officer Gregory Hernandez Jr. What is it like being out here and doing the off-duty job here?
Gregory Hernand…:I just try to keep the peace. I’m just here to make sure that nobody hurts anybody. Sometimes people don’t know how to talk with their words.
Laura Morel:Gregory is an officer for the Jacksonville sheriff’s office, but he doesn’t represent them here. And he says he’s there to protect both sides. This is a side job and not the kind that’s easy.
Gregory Hernand…:It’s not a pretty job. So I have a hard time getting people to come out here and it’s not like I could advertise it and say, “Hey, great place to work.”
Laura Morel:Gregory’s job is to make sure that the protesters don’t infringe onto Kelly’s territory. The property lines are faded in some spots, but the protesters know exactly where they are and they go right up to the line.
Gregory Hernand…:If they cross that property line, I’ll engage them and tell them they have to get back. But most of them know they can’t. Some of them try. I won’t engage them because I tried that several times and I’ve been talked to. So I don’t [inaudible]-
Laura Morel:By your supervisors?
Gregory Hernand…:Them, the lawyers, I don’t deal with the legal jargon. So.
Laura Morel:The lawyers representing them.
Gregory Hernand…:Them.
Laura Morel:Okay.
Gregory Hernand…:Yeah, they have them on speed dial. So I’ve literally said something. Within 10 minutes, there was an email with my name on it that they came and showed me and told me a cease and desist that I’m fringing on their rights.
Laura Morel:In December, Trudy stepped on a parking space that’s part of clinic property. Almost immediately, Gregory gave her a warning for trespassing.
Gregory Hernand…:So I’m letting you know you’ve been trespassing on the property. So you cannot be on the property.
Trudy:Okay.
Gregory Hernand…:If you come back again, you’ll be arrested.
Laura Morel:After the trespass warning, the protestors filed a “rudeness” complaint, accusing Gregory of being biased against them. All of this may sound petty, but this pressure is strategic and it’s high stakes. You see Trudy isn’t fighting alone. She has some muscle behind her.
Martin Cannon:Trudy. Yes. She’s just a wonderful person to deal with.
Laura Morel:That’s Martin Cannon. He’s a trial lawyer and senior counsel at the Thomas Moore Society based on Chicago. It’s one of the country’s top anti-abortion law firms. This is the firm that Gregory says Trudy and her group have on speed dial.
Martin Cannon:It’s very common for us to get into those situations and straighten things up without actually having to go into the courtroom.
Laura Morel:Thomas Moore Society lawyers helped Trudy lease the office next to Kelly’s clinic. And that cease and desist letter to the Jacksonville sheriff’s office that Gregory mentioned? The Thomas Moore society wrote it.
Martin Cannon:If a police officer on the beat has kind of got a mistaken notion, we go to the police chief and we kind of say, “Look here, your man’s making some mistakes out here. Can you straighten him out?”
Laura Morel:The persistent pressure makes a difference. Because of the rudeness complaint, the sheriff’s office ordered Gregory to take formal counseling. He was also suspended from working at the clinic for two weeks. Martin doesn’t call people like Trudy protestors. In fact, he shuns that word.
Martin Cannon:Protestors are people who show up someplace where they’re not wanted to make a lot of noise, get their message out there, very possibly get arrested on purpose for the sake of kind of making a symbolic point of some kind. Those are protestors. Our people aren’t out there for any of those reasons.
Laura Morel:Martin calls them “sidewalk counselors,” and compares them to campaign workers on election day.
Martin Cannon:You wouldn’t consider that person a protester. He’s just a guy fully within his rights lawfully trying to affect your decision by giving you information at the last possible moment before you go in and make it, right.
Laura Morel:But there are problems with this analogy.
Catherine Spill…:Number one, there are restrictions on how close a candidate advocate can be.
Laura Morel:Catherine Spiller is with the Feminist Majority Foundation, a women’s rights group that tracks violence at abortion clinics.
Catherine Spill…:And listen, if those restrictions were in place outside clinics, I’d say hooray, because all too often, these anti-abortion counselors are going right up to the clinic and then they’re going inside. They’d never be allowed to do that at the polling place.
Laura Morel:Catherine is right that campaigning your ballot sites is generally illegal. Every state limits it by distance. For example, here in Florida, it’s 150 feet. That’s half a football field. The protestors at Kelly’s clinic get a lot closer than that. They’re keeping the pressure on even as their side and the abortion debate gets the upper hand. And if Roe falls, Catherine predicts this kind of anti-abortion activism will spread far beyond Florida.
Catherine Spill…:So I think we’ll see increasing violence in states where abortion is fully protected.
Laura Morel:States like California, New York, and Washington.
Al Letson:Kelly went as far as buying a building to keep the protestors away. When that didn’t work, she had to rely on more off duty officers, but there is a law that’s supposed to stop protestors from interfering with a patient’s right to an abortion and passed years ago with great promise.
Speaker 17:And it will mean when a woman wishes to have an abortion guaranteed by the federal government, no one can take the law in his or her own hands and say “You can’t.”
Al Letson:Why that law is now failing, that’s next on Reveal.
Speaker 18:Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program to bring you a special bulletin.
Jim Briggs:From the Center for Investigative Reporting, this is Jim Briggs and-
Fernando Arruda:Fernando Arruda.
Jim Briggs:We’re the sound designers behind Reveal.
Fernando Arruda:Each week we create an album of original music for every single episode.
Jim Briggs:We like to think thematically and create music that will help listeners understand the story.
Fernando Arruda:It’s all available for download. You can find it at revealnews.bandcap.com. Thanks for listening.
Al Letson:From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. Kelly Flynn, her staff, and her patients know what it’s like to work and get care in a state that is a battleground over abortion. They say that several times a week, protesters are right up close, taking their photos, praying loudly, and shouting at them. But so far, nobody’s chained themselves to a clinic entrance or used cars with flat tires or scrap metal to block front doors, things protestors were doing during the 80s and the 90s. Back then violence against providers was happening around the country.
David Gunn Jr.:The wanted posters, the stalking, the effigies, it just keeps ratcheting up and up and up.
Al Letson:David Gunn Jr. was a teenager at the time watching the fight over abortion escalate. And he wasn’t just watching it on television. He was living it. You see David’s dad was a doctor who delivered babies and performed abortions.
David Gunn Jr.:From the time I was about 14 until I was about 18, he traveled a circuit. He worked clinics in Columbus, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama.
Al Letson:His dad was logging about a thousand miles a week.
David Gunn Jr.:Then he had polio. So it was hard for him to drive long distances. I drove him to the various clinics where he worked. So my upper end of adolescence was spent at least almost every weekend in an abortion clinic as a boy.
Al Letson:At the time Dr. Gunn, whose first name is also David, was getting hate mail and death threats. People would harass him at restaurants, even follow him at night.
David Gunn Jr.:He knew how dangerous it was. And he knew that things had escalated to a point, especially after the incident out in Montgomery where he kind of taunted them and sang happy birthday to Roe V. Wade to the protestors and played Tom Petty’s “I Walk Back Down” to them. Yeah, he did that.
Al Letson:One day, David got a call from his mom telling him that a group of anti-abortion protestors had shown up to their small town in Alabama. They were handing out wanted posters with his dad’s picture on the front and the schedule he followed on the back.
David Gunn Jr.:And I was like, holy shit. And that’s when it kind of got real for me as far as the danger situation.
Al Letson:But David said his dad kept doing the work and played it off as if he weren’t worried.
David Gunn Jr.:Although he did carry a couple of weapons with him because I think he was worried that they might try and corner him while he was out on the road and alone.
Al Letson:He wasn’t cornered on the road, but in 1993, David Gunn had just gotten out of his car at an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, when he was shot three times in the back. He’s believed to be the first doctor in the US to be murdered for performing abortions. David Jr’s grandmother was the one who told him what happened.
David Gunn Jr.:I mean, I lost it, primal scream type reaction, and took a while to gather myself. And I called my mom and my sister and they knew already and went over to where they were, and a number of our friends came over and we watched the news.
Speaker 22:Dr. David Gunn was shot after getting out of his car as he came to work at a Pensacola abortion clinic.
Al Letson:Michael Frederick Griffin killed Dr. Gunn. Griffin was a fundamentalist Christian and member of Rescue America, an extremist anti-abortion group. Griffin was convicted of murder and is still in prison. At 22 years old, David Gunn Jr. suddenly found himself trying to get people in power to take violence at abortion clinics more seriously.
David Gunn Jr.:If we could have done-
Al Letson:Here he is talking about his father during a congressional hearing only three weeks after his death.
David Gunn Jr.:He has been viewed as only an abortionist, not as a man. I mean, he was a real person. The organizations have said, “Well, we don’t condone this, but it was morally justified.” Well, that is condoning it. That is only allowing it to be furthered. And if appropriate measures aren’t taken, this will happen again in other cities. I feel firmly about that.
Al Letson:During this period, one of the leaders of Rescue America said his group didn’t condone Dr. Gunn’s murder. But he also said, “We have to remember that Dr. Gunn has killed thousands and thousands of babies.” Abortion rights advocates wanted lawmakers to do something about the growing violence that clinics were facing from a wave of anti-abortion blockades of clinics to clinic bombings, but it took Gunn’s murder for lawmakers to act. In 1994, Congress passed what is called the Face Act, but Reveal’s Laura Morel found the law fails to protect most patients and employees at clinics from the kind of harassments they face today. Here’s Laura again.
Laura Morel:The law’s official name is the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. It makes it illegal to intimidate patients or staff at abortion clinics through either force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction. But from the beginning, the anti-abortion movement argued that the bill would end up violating a protester’s right to free speech. Reverend Joseph Forman from the group Missionaries to the Preborn told lawmakers at a 1993 House subcommittee hearing that laws already exist to prosecute violence.
Joseph Forman:Were the murder laws not strict enough or arson laws to lax? Are assault and battery laws incapable of enforcement?
Laura Morel:At that same hearing, anti-abortion activist, Randall Terry called abortion, the “crown jewel of the politically correct” and said the FACE Act incorrectly demonizes people like him.
Randall Terry:I am distressed by the mischaracterizations, the outright lies, the character assassination that has gone on of decent men and women all over this country who have conscientiously and non-violently sought to save children from abortion.
Laura Morel:But Randall was known for using aggressive tactics. He founded the national group Operation Rescue in the late eighties and used the slogan, “if you think abortion is murder, act like it.” The group would use their bodies to block clinic entrances. Those sorts of tactics are what the FACE Act was supposed to address. And ultimately the bill went out. The current Democratic Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York was in the House of Representatives at the time. He sponsored the House’s version of the bill and addressed the press after a signing ceremony at the White House.
Chuck Schumer:And I just think this is a good day for civil rights. It’s a good day for people’s rights. And it will mean when a woman wishes to have an abortion guaranteed by the federal government, no one can take the law in his or her own hands and say, “You can’t.” No one can say my moral beliefs are higher than the law of this land. America doesn’t work that way.
Laura Morel:The law gave the Department of Justice the power to pursue cases in criminal and civil court. Violators can be banned from standing near clinic entrances or can face up to 10 years in prison if someone is hurt. It was meant to protect abortion providers and their patients. So I contacted the Justice Department and requested a list of FACE cases to see how often the law was being used. The DOJ sent me a list of case numbers, going back to the creation of the law in 1994. Here’s what I discovered. Since the law took effect, the DOJ has filed just 101 cases. 17 cases were filed during the first year. Then they drop to an average of about three per year, but violence is still happening.

A national survey of abortion clinics found that during a recent six year period, there were hundreds of assaults and clinic invasions. And in Florida, we know that police calls related to disturbances, harassment and violence at clinics doubled in the last six years. Yet only two FACE Act cases were filed in the state during that same time period. One of them was at Kelly’s clinic after a man from South Carolina called in a bomb threat.

The Department of Justice declined my request for an interview. In a statement, the agency said that it is committed to holding people accountable who use violence or threats of violence against those seeking reproductive healthcare. They pointed to the March indictments of nine people who are part of a clinic blockade in Washington, DC as proof. When the government does use the FACE Act, it’s usually able to get protection orders for clinics or prison time for defendants. So why are so few cases filed? Julie Botte is a former justice department deputy chief within the civil rights division. She oversaw civil FACE Act cases for 15 years until 2018.
Julie Botte:The FACE Act has been successful in what it was designed to do at the time.
Laura Morel:Which was mainly to stop those big blockades in front of clinic entrances that were taking place in the late 80s and early 90s. But Julie says it hasn’t stopped other types of harassment and interference that she saw during her years at the DOJ.
Julie Botte:Some of the anti-abortion protestors will dress in like lab coats or something like that. And so folks will stop for them voluntarily thinking that there are people from the clinic. And then they realize eventually that it’s not clinic workers at all. At that point, they can drive away. So that wouldn’t be a physical obstruction. It’s not a threat. It’s not forced.
Laura Morel:Which means it doesn’t violate the FACE Act as it was written. And neither does what’s happening outside Kelly Flynn’s clinic in Florida, things like protesters taking photos of patients, staff, their license plates, yelling at them and calling 911 to complain about being harassed themselves, basically creating what Kelly feels is a sense of chaos at the clinic. In other words, the FACE Act isn’t holding back the anti-abortion movement’s right to free speech like they feared years ago because the movement has adapted and shifted their tactics to get around it. Julie says the attorneys under her, the AUSAs, would sometimes get frustrated with the limitations of the law.
Julie Botte:A couple of times I had to tell an assistant US attorney, this is not a FACE case, and they’d try to go above me. And the people above me would ask me that is this good or not? And I’d explain it. And I would also tell the AUSAs, if you go above me, they will come back to me. This is the deal. I’m really sorry. I know it’s awful. And it’s not a FACE Act violation. And people would just get livid, as well they should because people are being obstructed. They are being intimidated, just not by physical obstruction or threats of force.
Laura Morel:But even when a case is really strong, it can sometimes be difficult to succeed in court. Julie remembers one particular case from 2011.
Julie Botte:Angel Dillard in Wichita, Kansas.
Angel Dillard:I’ve been active in the Republican party since I was a teenager.
Laura Morel:This is Angel Dillard. She’s speaking in a 2009 documentary called What’s the Matter with Kansas. It’s based on a book that traces conservatism in Kansas and how the state became entangled in the country’s culture wars, including abortion.
Angel Dillard:We just were trying to hold the line, trying to keep the culture from going any further in the wrong direction.
Julie Botte:I actually kind of have a lot of respect for her and her conviction. She’s a fascinating woman who just truly believes in what she’s doing.
Laura Morel:At the same time, Julie also believes that what Angel did was against the law.
Julie Botte:And we thought it was a very strong case. She wrote a letter, we had the letter, it said these things threatened force, et cetera.
Laura Morel:Julie is referring to a letter that Angel Dillard sent to Dr. Mila Means in 2011. At the time, Dr. Means was a physician training to provide abortion services in Wichita. The letter is typed single spaced. It’s a bit chaotic as if someone were trying to squeeze a lot of information onto one page. Angel warns Dr. Means that thousands of people are looking into her backgrounds and that they “know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live. You will be checking under your car every day because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.” But Angel’s lawyer said she was just warning the doctor of which she probably already knew were commonplace dangers for abortion providers. We reached out to Angel Dillard several times, but she refused to speak with us. Julie decided the letter did pass muster, that it made enough of a threat to Dr. Means to pursue a civil FACE Act lawsuit. Julie tried to show that Angel had been communicating with Scott Rotor, an abortion opponent who shot and killed Dr. George Tiller.
Julie Botte:She would visit him when he was in jail, the local jail [inaudible] county jail. And then when he went to prison, she would also visit him in the state prison. And she would write all these letters and I admire you. And what you did was fantastic. And so you really got a sense of what she was about.
Laura Morel:The justice department argued that Angel wanted to intimidate Dr. Means, but a district judge ruled in favor of Angel saying the government had failed to prove that actual violence against Dr. Means was likely and imminent or that the letter made for a true threat. And therefore no underlying FACE violation occurred. So the government filed an appeal. And ultimately the case went in front of a jury to decide if Angel violated the FACE Act. Julie knew she’d be bringing this case in a conservative state. So she tried not to frame it as an abortion rights case.
Julie Botte:We really presented it as a law and order type case. Do everything you want. Just don’t cross this line. When you cross this line, it causes harm. And therefore you ought not do so.
Laura Morel:After deliberating, the jurors came back and said that Angel’s letter was a threat.
Julie Botte:They said, yes. And so to me and to Dr. Means that was very significant because that was saying that the jury said, we get it. You had a right to be afraid.
Laura Morel:And Dr. Means was afraid. She started to take precautions, like having a mechanic look over her car and only parking it where she could see it. But ultimately that threat wasn’t enough to prove that Angel violated the FACE Act because the jury found the threat wasn’t physical.
Julie Botte:And the jury said that they thought it was a threat of spiritual harm, that she was warning of spiritual harm. And her letter was filled with spiritual writings. And so that’s what they decided.
Laura Morel:Angel had written this: “If Tiller could speak from hell, he would tell you what a soulless existence you are purposefully considering all in the name of greed.” Dr. Means eventually decided not to provide abortion care. The FACE Act was written narrowly to protect the right to free speech. But abortion providers say what’s passing as free speech is actually an attempt to intimidate people. And Angel’s case shows how limited the law is. Julie used to tell abortion providers to reach out to their local law enforcement or city council for protections. But she admits many clinics are on their own, especially if they’re based in areas where abortion is shrouded in stigma.
Julie Botte:Most clinics just suck it up and deal with it day after day. And it’s unfortunate.
Laura Morel:In Jacksonville, Kelly Flynn has had no luck getting local officials to respond.
Al Letson:As protestors keep up the pressure in Florida, the private road outside Kelly’s clinic is reaching a boiling point. Staff are getting more frustrated and so are the patients.
Kelly Flynn:And I said, just be prepared that she could possibly get arrested.
Al Letson:That’s next on Reveal. I know, I know it’s hard. You wait all week for this podcast and then it’s over and you find yourself wanting more. Let me make a recommendation. The Reveal newsletter. It goes behind the scenes into how we make and report these stories. Subscribe now at revealnews.org/newsletter.

From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. The federal law designed to punish anyone who attempts to interfere with a person’s right to an abortion does little to help Kelly Flynn, her patients, and staff. The one guy who called in a bomb threat is the only time anything at her clinic has been prosecuted under the FACE Act. Kelly says this makes her feel stuck. She says all the energy she has to spend managing the protests outside clinic takes away from the actual medical care she provides.
Kelly Flynn:I could offer much more to the people that we see versus having to try to fight this nastiness and this just a hostile environment that we’re in. As abortion providers, we should not have to be harassed going to work every day. I mean, no one’s picketing the urologist that’s doing vasectomies.
Al Letson:The proselytizing, picture taking, and yelling, well, it all feels like harassment to Kelly. And so does this Saturday morning religious ceremony.
Speaker 28:Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Al Letson:Saturday mornings are a busy time for abortion appointments. And Trudy Perezpoveda. The woman who rented a room in the same medical complex as Kelly’s clinic so that her group could be closer to the clinic’s front door, well, she’s organized this procession. There’s a priest in a clerical collar. A woman at the end of the line is swinging chimes. The protestors are dressed in fluorescent yellow vests. They March down the private road and around the clinic buildings in single file, singing and praying. It’s an odd sight. Remember this is a medical complex.
Speaker 28:So as a vanity of your dearly beloved son.
Al Letson:Reveal’s Laura Morel was at Kelly’s clinic watching this all. And while the protestors described their religious ceremony as a peaceful form of protest, clinic staff have told Laura that to them, it feels hostile.
Laura Morel:Every time they’re here, Trudy’s group is trying to talk patients out of getting abortions. And today is no different. As the protestors march, a few keep an eye on the clinic and shout at patients going inside. Trudy’s filming the whole thing. Hi, good morning. Are you Trudy? She’s directing people and organizing them into the procession.
Trudy:I am. Who are you?
Laura Morel:I’m Laura Morel.
Trudy:I’m not talking to you.
Laura Morel:It’s hard to hear, but Trudy is saying, “I’m not talking to you.” Ms. Perez. Later, she yells at me that this ceremony is what her group is all about and that I should consider it her interview.
Speaker 28:For the sake of his [inaudible] passion.
Laura Morel:Volunteer escorts are there to guide patients. One named Maryanne who didn’t want to share her last name is holding an umbrella sideways to hide patients from the protestors. She says patients don’t know what to make of things when they show up for medical care and see a religious ceremony happening.
Maryanne:They get confused because they don’t know who they are. They don’t know who we are. Half of them don’t even park straight because they’re panicking.
Laura Morel:And while some patients may panic, others get frustrated, especially when the protestors start to photograph them or their cars. Take one Tuesday morning in the spring of 2021 when about 10 protesters were outside Kelly’s clinic.
Speaker 30:Jacksonville 911. What is the location of your emergency?
Crystal Valenti…:It’s A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville.
Speaker 30:Okay. And what’s going on there?
Crystal Valenti…:A woman was just assaulted.
Speaker 30:Okay. By who?
Speaker 28:By somebody in the clinic.
Laura Morel:That’s somebody is a 19 year old patient at Kelly’s clinic for an abortion. The woman who was assaulted? Trudy.
Speaker 30:Does she need an ambulance?
Speaker 28:No, but she does need police. I need to report an assault.
Speaker 30:Okay.
Laura Morel:Then the operator asked to speak to the victim and a woman who sounds like Trudy gets on the phone.
Speaker 30:Did she hit you with a weapon or?
Trudy:No, with her hand, she pushed me to the ground.
Speaker 30:Okay. And do you need an ambulance at all?
Trudy:No, I’m fine.
Speaker 30:Okay. I’ll go ahead and get an officer out there to you, okay?
Trudy:Thank you so much.
Speaker 30:You’re welcome.
Laura Morel:The patient is from Georgia where the vast majority of counties don’t have an abortion clinic. She drove here with her mother. She’s one of thousands of out-of-state patients who came to Florida for an abortion last year. She wouldn’t talk to me and neither would Trudy. So I went to someone who saw what happened, Crystal Valentine, the clinic’s vice president. She says the protestors were yelling at the patient as she walked from her car into the clinic.
Crystal Valenti…:She was inside our building. And when the door opened, she heard them still yelling at her. And so she just ran back outside.
Laura Morel:Two surveillance videos showed Trudy walking right up to the edge of Kelly’s property line and taking photos of cars parked outside the clinic. Then the footage shows the patient coming up to Trudy and shoving her hard. Trudy falls to the ground.
Crystal Valenti…:Trudy was right on the line and just hounding her and hounding her and hounding her. And she just lost it. She just shoved her. This stuff is going to happen because people can only take so much. Could something worse happen? Absolutely.
Laura Morel:Michelle Mahea is the clinic’s manager.
Michelle Mahea:So I went and spoke with the mom. I said, “Listen, the cops probably got called,” and I said, “Just be prepared that she could possibly get arrested.”
Laura Morel:Michelle says an officer arrived, reviewed video of what happened and then asked to see the patient.
Michelle Mahea:Once he told her she would have to get arrested, forget it. She just broke down and she was so distraught and crying. And her mom was trying to console her.
Laura Morel:Michelle covered the young woman with a blanket, so protesters couldn’t see her and let her out the back door to the officer’s patrol car. And the 19 year old who’d come to Kelly for medical care spent the night in Jacksonville’s jail.

Officers have been called to Kelly’s clinic 34 times for disturbances, harassment, and violence in the last three years. Trudy herself has called several times, once to claim that the clinic was blaring loud music. Escorts do this sometimes to drown out singing from the religious procession. Protestors have also called to claim that a doctor from the clinic tried to run one of them over and that a minor was being coerced into an abortion. In both of those instances, police didn’t find any wrongdoing. There are also calls about scuffles and threats, but this incident, a patient pushing Trudy, is the only time someone’s actually been arrested at the clinic. Kelly felt like it was all so unnecessary.
Kelly Flynn:She was already going through so much in her life and then had to deal with that too. Getting screamed at going into the clinic and then being put in the back of the cop car and having to process this. My goodness.
Laura Morel:Trudy was hurt. Police photos show a bruise on her elbow and a small cut on her ankle. Martin Cannon, the lawyer at the Thomas Moore Society, the conservative law firm that helped Trudy lease the office next to Kelly’s clinic, saw the video footage and was appalled.
Martin Cannon:It’s fairly shocking. She’s a, I don’t know, seventies, maybe. I don’t know how old Trudy is, but she went down hard. It’s pretty brazen.
Laura Morel:In Florida, battery of a senior automatically ups the charge. Trudy is over 65, so the young woman was charged with a felony. The case is still pending. Prosecutors wouldn’t comment and neither would the Jacksonville sheriff’s office. Getting arrested is not what this young woman expected when she came to Kelly’s clinic. Abortion rights group say all this volatility is meant to create the impression that abortion is more controversial than it really is. For Martin Cannon and the anti-abortion movement, the point is to draw attention.
Martin Cannon:The sidewalk people give all the other pro-lifers energy and a reason to feel like there’s still something to talk about. Abortion has become a litmus test for legislators and court justices. And it’s the activists that have made that happen.
Laura Morel:The strategy is working in Florida.
Speaker 33:Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the most restrictive abortion ban in Florida history.
Laura Morel:The new law makes abortions after 15 weeks illegal with no exceptions for rape or incest. There is an exception for those who could die or face severe complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
Speaker 34:This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation.
Laura Morel:The law is expected to take effect in July. It’s a victory for protestors. The anti-abortion movement sees this as an opportunity and they want more. They plan to keep up the pressure in Florida. Martin knows this because he recently traveled here to help a client who wants to do just that.
Speaker 35:Can God use you to close your local abortion facility? We’re Sidewalk Advocates for Life.
Martin Cannon:They’ve probably got 200 local chapters in various states across the country, basically decided to kind of open up a new front in Florida.
Laura Morel:Sidewalk Advocates for Life is based in Texas. It calls itself Christ centered and cross denominational and shows more than half a million dollars in revenue in 2019.
Martin Cannon:And I went down there a few months ago and specifically personally visited about 24 different abortion clinic sites for the purpose of advising the local actors there where they could stand, where they couldn’t stand.
Laura Morel:Martin and the Thomas Moore Society aren’t just helping Sidewalk Advocates for Life gear up. They’re also trying to ignite their own followers online.
Speaker 37:You are in the right place for this important nationwide online event, winning America’s culture wars.
Laura Morel:This was in March. The host said about a thousand people were there and introduced what he called top Christian lawyers. Martin was one of them.
Speaker 37:Martin Cannon, thank you so much for giving-
Laura Morel:He spoke from what looked like his home. There’s a stone wall and two small lanterns behind him. Martin encouraged anti-abortion activists to keep the pressure on.
Martin Cannon:This wound on our society that his abortion would’ve scabbed over and faded from the public consciousness years ago, if not for the activists. So we need to do more of that. It worked for the last 50 years. It’ll work again.
Laura Morel:But Catherine Spiller says the past few decades of anti-abortion activism have been dangerous for democracy. Her group and several others filed an Amicus brief to the Supreme Court last fall. They argued that if the court overturns Roe, as it now looks likely to do, this will send the message that violence works.
Catherine Spill…:We thought it was important to remind the court that in a democracy violence should not be allowed to work for political purposes. And that this would be viewed by the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement as having been successful in pressuring the court.
Laura Morel:The Amicus brief included a long list of anti-abortion violence over more than 40 years, including arsons, bombings, and 11 murders. But Martin says that fears about deadly attacks are overblown.
Martin Cannon:There have been whatever you say, a dozen people shot or whatever. I’ve never tried to do this, but analogize it to just members of the public being murdered by anybody. I don’t know that an abortionist is at any greater risk really than an average Joe walking down the street.
Laura Morel:In Jacksonville, Kelly is trying to take control where she can. She hired a surveyor and has plans to repaint the property lines outside her clinic. She’s going to put up a fence in her parking lot to give patients more privacy. It’s all part of making patients feel safe, especially now as dozens of states across the country, prepare to ban or severely restrict abortion.
Kelly Flynn:I feel like as women we’ve come so far just to get pushed back down again, to get told that we’re not capable of making our own decisions because it’s wrong according to who. Why don’t you let me live with that decision? You go do your own thing. Let me do mine.
Laura Morel:And Kelly’s thing right now is speaking out. She’s been doing TV interviews left and right, and hoping that this moment galvanizes people to care and start talking about abortion in a way they haven’t before, all in the hope of protecting abortion rights.
Al Letson:The recent leak of the Supreme Court opinion makes it clear that the court plans to gut Roe V. Wade. Unless one of the justices changes their mind, abortion rights are about to be severely limited. We’re going to continue to follow this issue. To stay up to date on our reporting, you can subscribe to our newsletter by going to revealnews.org/newsletter. That’s revealnews.org/newsletter.

Thanks to Reveal’s Laura Morel for bringing us that story. Katherine Meskowski, Emily Harris, and Amy the great Mustaffa produced this week’s show. Cynthia Rodriguez edited it and Mohammed Alou provided data analysis with help from Sue Oh, Melissa Lewis and Seria Ferman. Thanks also to Deca Maldowny for research help. Nina Martin edited the digital version of Laura’s story. You can check that out at evealnews.org and motherjones.com. Our fact checker is Nikki Frek. Victoria Bereneski is our general counsel. Sean Mustgrave is our first amendment fellow. Score and sound designed by the dynamic duo Jay Breezy, Mr. Jim Briggs and Fernando my man, yo Arruda. Our post-production team is the justice league and includes Jess Alvaranga, Steven Rascon and Katherine Styer Martinez.

Our digital producer is Sarah Merck. Our CEO is Kaizar Campwalla. Sumi Aggarwall is our editor in chief, and our executive producer is Kevin Sullivan. Our theme music is by Comorado Lightning. Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan foundation, the John D and Catherine T McArthur foundation, the Jonathan Logan family foundation, the Ford foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Inasmuch Foundation. Reveal is a co-production of the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. I’m Al Letson. And remember, there is always more to the story.

If you like what we do and you want to help, well, it’s pretty simple. Just write us a review on Apple podcast. It’s easy and only takes a few seconds. Just open the Apple podcast app on your phone, search for reveal. Then scroll down to where you see write a review and there tell them how much you love the host. Your review makes it easier for listeners to find us and well, it really does make a difference. And if you do it, you will get a personal thank you for me, like right now. Like thank, not him. Not you. Yes, you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. All right.
Speaker 38:From PRX.

Laura C. Morel is a reporter for Reveal, covering immigration.

She previously was a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, where she covered criminal justice issues. She was a 2017 finalist for a Livingston Award, which recognizes young journalists, for an investigation with two other reporters into Walmart’s excessive use of police resources.

In 2016, Morel became one of Reveal’s inaugural investigative fellows. The program, aimed at increasing diversity among the ranks of investigative journalists, offers reporters embedded at their home outlets the training and mentoring to pursue an investigative project. Morel’s fellowship project exposed the extent of Florida’s gun theft problem.

Mohamed Al Elew

Mohamed Al Elew (he/him) is a data reporter for Reveal. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of California San Diego, where he was a research scholar at the Data Science Institute and served as editor-in-chief of The Triton, the school’s independent student newsroom. As an intern at CalMatters, he worked on an award-winning investigation into instruction lost at California public schools due to natural disasters and infrastructure failures. He is based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal. She's also been a senior writer for Salon and Fast Company. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Slate and on NPR's "All Things Considered."

Her coverage has won national awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award two years in a row, an Online News Association Award, a Webby Award and a Society of Environmental Journalists Award. Mieszkowski has a bachelor's degree from Yale University. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Emily Harris is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal. She previously served as an NPR international correspondent, based first in Berlin and later in Jerusalem. Her 2016 series on Israelis and Palestinians changing their minds about some aspect of their conflict won the Overseas Press Club’s Lowell Thomas Award, and her 2014 coverage of Gaza was honored with an Overseas Press Club citation. She also was part of the NPR team that won a 2004 Peabody Award for coverage in Iraq. Harris lived in and reported from Russia during the upheaval of the 1990s. In the U.S., she covered a range of beats for NPR’s Washington desk and reported jointly for NPR and PBS’ “Now” with Bill Moyers. Harris helped start and host “Think Out Loud,” a daily public affairs talk show on Oregon Public Broadcasting. She worked to evaluate and share new financial models for journalism as editorial director of the Journalism Accelerator startup. She’s drafted a screenplay about relationships born in war and collects audio stories of awful and mind-changing moments in people’s lives. Harris is based in Portland, Oregon.

Amy Mostafa (she/they) is the production manager for Reveal. She is a UC Berkeley School of Journalism alum, where she focused on audio and data journalism as a Dean's Merit Fellow and an ISF Scholar. She has reported on science, health and the environment in Anchorage for Alaska Public Media and on city government in Berkeley and San Francisco for KQED. Her work also has appeared on NPR, KALW and KALX. Mostafa holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and public policy. She has most recently reported on housing and aging in the Bay Area. She is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Cynthia Rodriguez

Cynthia Rodriguez is a senior radio editor for Reveal. She is an award-winning journalist who came to Reveal from New York Public Radio, where she spent nearly two decades covering everything from the city’s dramatic rise in family homelessness to police’s fatal shootings of people with mental illness.

In 2019, Rodriguez was part of Caught, a podcast that documents how the problem of mass incarceration starts with the juvenile justice system. Caught received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for outstanding journalism in the public interest. Her other award-winning stories include investigations into the deaths of construction workers during New York City's building boom and the “three-quarter house” industry – a network of independent, privately run buildings that pack vulnerable people into unsanitary, overcrowded buildings in exchange for their welfare funds.

In 2013, Rodriguez was one of 13 journalists to be selected as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where her study project was on the intersection of poverty and mental health. She is based in New York City but is originally from San Antonio, Texas, and considers both places home.

Nina Martin (she/her) is the features editor for Reveal. She develops high-impact investigative reporting projects for Reveal’s digital and audio platforms and television and print partners. Previously, she was a reporter at ProPublica, covering sex and gender issues, and worked as an editor and/or reporter at San Francisco magazine, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, Health magazine and BabyCenter magazine. Her Lost Mothers project for ProPublica and NPR examining maternal mortality in the U.S. led to sweeping change to maternal health policy at the state and federal levels and won numerous awards. Martin is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Andy Donohue is the executive editor for projects for Reveal. He’s edited Reveal’s investigations into the treatment of migrant children in government care, Amazon’s labor practices, rehab work camps and sexual abuse in the janitorial industry. He’s been on teams that have twice been Pulitzer Prize finalists and have won Investigative Reporters and Editors, Edward R. Murrow, Online News Association, Third Coast International Audio Festival, Gerald Loeb, Sidney Hillman Foundation and Emmy awards. He previously helped build and lead Voice of San Diego, served on the IRE board for eight years and is an alumnus of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. Donohue is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Soo Oh is the enterprise editor for data at Reveal. She has previously reported data stories, coded interactive visuals and built internal tools at the Wall Street Journal, Vox.com, the Los Angeles Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2018, she was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, where she researched how to better manage and support journalists with technical skills. Oh is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Melissa Lewis is a data reporter for Reveal. Prior to joining Reveal, she was a data editor at The Oregonian, a data engineer at Simple and a data analyst at Periscopic. She is an organizer for the Portland chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association. Lewis is based in Oregon.

Soraya Ferdman is an editorial assistant at Reveal. She previously was a staff writer at First Amendment Watch, a news and education site based in New York University’s journalism school. She also worked at PEN America and was a fellow at Mashable. She has a bachelor’s degree in American history from Brown University.

Jim Briggs III is the senior sound designer, engineer and composer for Reveal. He supervises post-production and composes original music for the public radio show and podcast. He also leads Reveal's efforts in composition for data sonification and live performances.

Prior to joining Reveal in 2014, Briggs mixed and recorded for clients such as WNYC Studios, NPR, the CBC and American Public Media. Credits include “Marketplace,” “Selected Shorts,” “Death, Sex & Money,” “The Longest Shortest Time,” NPR’s “Ask Me Another,” “Radiolab,” “Freakonomics Radio” and “Soundcheck.” He also was the sound re-recording mixer and sound editor for several PBS television documentaries, including “American Experience: Walt Whitman,” the 2012 Tea Party documentary "Town Hall" and “The Supreme Court” miniseries. His music credits include albums by R.E.M., Paul Simon and Kelly Clarkson.

Briggs' work with Reveal has been recognized with an Emmy Award (2016) and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards (2018, 2019). Previously, he was part of the team that won the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma for its work on WNYC’s hourlong documentary special “Living 9/11.” He has taught sound, radio and music production at The New School and Eugene Lang College and has a master's degree in media studies from The New School. Briggs is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Fernando Arruda

Fernando Arruda is a sound designer, engineer and composer for Reveal. As a multi-instrumentalist, he contributes to the original music, editing and mixing of the weekly public radio show and podcast. He has held four O-1 visas for individuals with extraordinary abilities. His work has been recognized with Peabody, duPont-Columbia, Edward R. Murrow, Gerald Loeb, Third Coast and Association of Music Producers awards, as well as Emmy and Pulitzer nominations. Prior to joining Reveal, Arruda toured as an international DJ and taught music technology at Dubspot and ESRA International Film School. He worked at Antfood, a creative audio studio for media and TV ads, and co-founded a film-scoring boutique called the Manhattan Composers Collective. He worked with clients such as Marvel, MasterClass and Samsung and ad agencies such as Framestore, Trollbäck+Company, BUCK and Vice. Arruda releases experimental music under the alias FJAZZ and has performed with many jazz, classical and pop ensembles, such as SFJAZZ Monday Night Band, Art&Sax quartet, Krychek, Dark Inc. and the New York Arabic Orchestra. His credits in the podcast and radio world include NPR’s “51 Percent,” WNYC’s “Bad Feminist Happy Hour” and its live broadcast of Orson Welles’ “The Hitchhiker,” Wondery’s “Detective Trapp,” MSNBC’s “Why Is This Happening?” and NBC’s “Born to Rule,” to name a few. Arruda also has a wide catalog of composed music for theatrical, orchestral and chamber music formats, some of which has premiered worldwide. He holds a master’s degree in film scoring and composition from NYU Steinhardt. The original music he makes with Jim Briggs for Reveal can be found on Bandcamp.

Steven Rascón (he/they) is a production assistant for Reveal. He is pursuing a master's degree at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with a Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy Fellowship. His focus is investigative reporting and audio documentary. He has written for online, magazines and radio. His reporting on underreported fentanyl overdoses in Los Angeles' LGBTQ community aired on KCRW and KQED. Rascón is passionate about telling diverse stories for radio through community engagement. He holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater arts and creative writing.

Kathryn Styer Martínez

Kathryn Styer Martínez (she/ella) is a production assistant for Reveal. She studies audio and photojournalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She is also a Greater Good Science Center reporting fellow, focusing on Latino well-being.

Martínez was the 2020-21 Toni Randolph reporting fellow at Minnesota Public Radio, the 2019-20 New Economy Reporting Project fellow and the former director of KGPC-LP FM, Peralta Community Radio. Her work has appeared in El Tecolote, The Oaklandside, MPR News, National Public Radio, Outside Online, Talk Poverty, New Life Quarterly and Making Contact.

She earned bachelor’s degrees in Raza studies and political science from San Francisco State University.

Jess Alvarenga (they/she) is an associate producer for Reveal. They are an audio producer and documentary filmmaker from the American South. Meeting at the intersection of art and journalism, they use storytelling as a way to document and reimagine immigrant narratives, particularly those of the Central American diaspora. In 2017, Alvarenga was awarded an individual artist grant from the Houston Arts Alliance and the City of Houston for their work on the city’s Central American population. They have a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.

Kevin Sullivan is the executive producer of Reveal’s public radio show and podcast. He joined Reveal from the daily news magazine show “Here & Now,” where he was senior managing editor. There, he helped lead the expansion of the show as part of a unique partnership between NPR and WBUR. Prior to radio, Sullivan worked as a documentary film producer. That work took him around the world, with stories ranging from reconciliation in Northern Ireland to the refugee crisis during the war in Kosovo.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sullivan launched an investigative unit for CBS in Baltimore, where he spearheaded investigations on bioterrorism and the U.S. government’s ability to respond to future threats. He also dug into local issues. His exposé of local judges found widespread lax sentencing of repeat-offender drunken drivers. Other investigations included sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, and doctors who sold OxyContin for cash. Sullivan has won multiple journalism awards, including several Edward R. Murrow awards, a Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition award and an Emmy. He has an MBA from Boston University.

Sullivan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Al Letson is a playwright, performer, screenwriter, journalist, and the host of Reveal. Soul-stirring, interdisciplinary work has garnered Letson national recognition and devoted fans.