With a promise to attack the ills of America, abortion protesters set their sights on local bookstores and schools Monday in an effort to end teen sex and the sale of child pornography.
Handfuls of demonstrators displayed signs and pictures of aborted fetuses outside two high schools as part of a campaign intended to prevent unwanted pregnancy and potential abortions.
While some students entering school diverted their eyes from the graphic photos, others were indifferent.
"It's part of the Constitution," shrugged Jeremy Peters, a sophomore at Kenmore East High School. "As long as they don't hurt anyone, it really doesn't bother me."
The city has prepared for a siege -- nowhere more so than at the Buffalo's main abortion clinic. Although protest organizers have said they would not visit clinics and doctors' offices until Tuesday, the clinic has been like an armed camp since early Monday, with almost 100 police officers standing guard. It is impossible to mistake the message here: Buffalo will tolerate no violations of the law, and the law says abortions are legal.
Abortion rights activists have condemned the timing and choice of location for Operation Save America. The campaign was announced a week after last October's sniper killing of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian inside his home in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst.
Schopf said the event was planned long in advance of the doctor's death, which remains unsolved.
Demonstrators also targeted Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores for selling books by photographers Jock Sturges and David Hamilton that contain nude photos of children.
"We're using our children as sexual toys," the Rev. Flip Benham, national director of Operation Rescue, said Sunday.
About 50 demonstrators, who seemed evenly divided between anti-abortion and abortion-rights activists, stood Monday outside Barnes & Noble in East Amherst.
The anti-abortion demonstration annoyed store patron Art Plant, a retired teacher.
"I'm pro-life and a Christian and this is ridiculous," Plant said. "This is not what Christ would have wanted."
"I can understand their being upset with abortion clinics," Plant said, "but bookstores have a right to sell what they deem appropriate."
A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble said the bookseller will not remove books from the shelves. Supporters of the two photographers say the books are art, not pornography.
"Over the years, we have received countless requests and demands to stop selling everything from The Merchant of Venice to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, even The Living Bible,"' said Mary Ellen Keating.
The weeklong campign began Sunday with a noisy clash with abortion rights supporters on the steps of a federal courthouse. The crowd of about 150 people appeared evenly divided between abortion opponents, abortion rights supporters and reporters and photographers.
Local and national organizers sent out 60,000 invitations to this week's activities, but only a fraction of that number (200 to 600 people) were expected to participate.
There was no indication whether demonstrators will obey a court order that they remain 15 feet to 60 feet away from specified doctors' offices, clinics and hospitals. Protesters who invade the buffer zones may face contempt and trespassing charges carrying jail terms of up to two years.
"We feel we need to honor God's law first. No man's law can be worthy unless it first honors God's law," Eileen Schopf, spokeswoman for Operation Save America and Last Call Ministries, said Sunday.