Politics & Government

Debate protester had been arrested days earlier at Reds game

A protester climbs a tree to yell his beliefs about abortion at the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate at Centre College in Danville, KY. Photo by Katie Decker
A protester climbs a tree to yell his beliefs about abortion at the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate at Centre College in Danville, KY. Photo by Katie Decker HERALD-LEADER

DANVILLE — The man who shouted anti-abortion slogans from a tree at Thursday night's vice presidential debate festival at Centre College had been arrested earlier in the week for running across the field of a baseball playoff game between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants.

Rives Miller Grogan, 47, of Los Angeles was charged early Friday with disorderly conduct and was taken to the Boyle County Detention Center, according to the jail's Web site.

Another Los Angeles man, Frankie Cruz, 27, was arrested on a criminal trespassing charge, jail officials said. Both Grogan and Cruz were released Friday morning and are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 16 in Boyle District Court.

Danville Police Chief Tony Gray said they were the only two arrests related to the debate and accompanying festival.

It was the second time that Grogan made the news this week, but apparently not the first time he has grabbed headlines for his protests.

On Tuesday, he ran onto the field of the third National League Division Series playoff game in Cincinnati, carrying a sign that read "Abortion is sin." The game was delayed for about three minutes, according to news accounts and police.

According to online news accounts, Grogan has been arrested twice for disrupting U.S. Supreme Court sessions.

On Thursday, about 15 minutes before the debate was broadcast on a large-screen TV to a crowd of 5,000 to 6,000 on the Centre campus, Grogan began shouting "Stop Obama! Support Romney! Over 50 million babies have been killed!"

Police chose to let Grogan protest from his perch about 25 feet up the tree rather than risk harming him or others by trying to extricate him.

"We didn't want to go up with him so high up off the ground," Gray said. "If we tried to grab him and he fell out of the tree, or pulled our officer out of the tree," it might have caused injuries.

When a ladder was put into the tree, Grogan climbed higher to be out of reach. Kentucky State Police troopers formed an arc around the tree to keep gawkers away from the tree's base.

"We just waited him out," Gray said. "It worked out the best for everybody."

Those watching the debate said they were able to tune out the yelling and concentrate on the televised debate between Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

"It's been pretty amusing," said Bryan Gover, a Boyle County resident watching the debate from near the tree. "He's been able to keep up with what they (the candidates) were talking about."

To prove that point, late in the debate, Ryan asked, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a job creator in the White House?"

"Yes!" Grogan shouted.

He momentarily stopped as the candidates discussed abortion, but then he resumed yelling. At one point, he could be heard making reference to Zacchaeus, the diminutive tax collector mentioned in Luke 19: 1-10, who climbed a tree to look over a crowd and see Jesus.

And as The Marshall Tucker Band sang its signature hit Can't You See after the debate, Grogan began singing his slogans to the same melody. "Let the babies live; let the babies live," he sang.

After the music stopped, police called up to Grogan, "Preacher, c'mon, let's go!"

Grogan climbed down the ladder and was taken into custody at 12:10 a.m. Friday.

As police took him away, Grogan could be heard shouting, "You're hurting me! You're hurting my ribs!"

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