(This story contains strong language)
The abortion rights protester who was assaulted by Ron Paradine said he could tell the local truck driver was “on some sort of mission” as he approached the demonstrators from across the street while screaming obscenities at them.
“Film me all you want, you baby-killing motherfuckers are going to rot in hell,” Paradine yelled as he crossed the street, before landing the first of multiple punches into the face of the lone man protesting alongside a group of women at McGregor’s Triangle Park on July 22.
“There were a whole bunch of ladies there and most of them were older and I didn’t really want him to get in their faces and then he ends up in my face,” said the activist who was attacked. He only wants to be identified as a teacher from the area for fear of further retaliation.
The protests in McGregor have taken place weekly on Fridays since the US Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v Wade.
“We decided to do this in McGregor because it’s a small town and these types of things don’t often happen in small towns where people get together and demonstrate,” the teacher said.
Located in northeast Iowa, McGregor has a population of about 800 and abuts the Mississippi River. Directly across from it is Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where the teacher grew up and where the Truvant company Paradine works for is based.
The pro-choice advocates had held demonstrations in McGregor for a month before the man who a police report identified as Ronald Lee Paradine, a 62-year-old McGregor resident, physically assaulted one of them on Friday, July 22.
As they protested in the park, the teacher said a vehicle drove by and a motorist—who he is all but sure was Paradine—screamed and cursed at them.
“He was calling us communists and baby killers and using the F word a lot,” the teacher said.
The teacher’s wife, who was also protesting, told him they should watch out for the vehicle but he wasn’t too concerned at the time. The permitted protests go from 5-7 p.m. and, according to the police report, at 6:19 p.m is when Paradine crossed Main Street and began the physical confrontation with the demonstrators.
The teacher captured the entire three-minute altercation in a first-person video he shared with Starting Line.
Breaking: Iowa Starting Line has the video of a local man assaulting abortion rights protesters in McGregor. It happened last Friday in the small river town in Northeast Iowa.
Part 2 of the video in next tweet, where the man is arrested
(Warning: very strong language) pic.twitter.com/GOPLueIFQj
— Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) July 29, 2022
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During the video, Paradine punches the teacher multiple times in the face and makes at least one attempt to strike a female protestor.
Paradine’s first punch was thrown 11 seconds into the video. His second comes at the 16-second mark and you can hear the teacher say “you shouldn’t hit me” before being punched again, followed by “you should not hit me, sir” after the second blow.
“How many babies have you killed,” Paradine yells before striking the teacher a third time in the face at the 28-second mark. One of the female protestors comes to the teacher’s defense and Paradine cocks his fist toward her before the teacher intervenes and says “no, no, no, don’t” and steps up to take a fourth punch.
“You come in my little town with your stupid fucking signs,” Paradine yells at the 35-second mark.
“I live here, she lives here,” a female protestor offscreen retorts, which causes Paradine to call them “a bunch of communist motherfuckers” and raise both of his middle fingers.
“We’re not,” the teacher said. “You need to stop.”
Paradine’s final punch lands at the 53-second mark as the teacher is telling him “it’s illegal to hit people still.”
Police sirens can soon be heard after. Within a minute of that, Paradine is shown handcuffed by a Mar-Mac police officer. Even in cuffs, Paradine was still calling the protestors “a bunch of baby-killing motherfuckers.”
The teacher told Starting Line the whole incident was “quite bizarre.”
“Honestly, I feel sorry for him,” the teacher said. “He obviously feels very passionate about what he believes.”
Throughout the encounter, the teacher never raised his voice or attempted to hit Paradine back. He said a big part of his day job is de-escalation so he tried to use those same skills in this situation.
The teacher was unsure what to do and agreed to press charges after being asked by officers. Paradine was originally charged with assault, a simple misdemeanor under Iowa Code. However, on July 29— the day Starting Line shared the video on social media—Paradine’s charge was upgraded to a serious misdemeanor.
In the new charging documents, details from the video are noted and the teacher who was assaulted reported that “he began experiencing pain and muffled hearing in his right ear as a result of the striking.”
A no-contact order between the teacher and Paradine was served to Paradine on Aug. 5.
Paradine spent a night in jail and was released the next day on a $500 bond. Paradine listed his annual salary as $90,000 in court documents and his application for a court-appointed attorney was denied on the grounds of him making too much money.
While the teacher was relieved something is being done legally about his situation, he’s frustrated by the lack of legal process for an incident in Cedar Rapids that occurred nearly a month before he was assaulted.
A man driving a truck struck abortion rights advocates walking in a crosswalk as they were leaving a protest in Cedar Rapids. No charges have been filed in the incident and, relatedly, a 2021 Iowa law protects motorists who strike protestors from civil liability if the driver demonstrates “due care.”
“I don’t understand how what this man did to me can be illegal and cost him a night in jail and now him being charged with assault and this other individual in Cedar Rapids … has every right to run over people with his vehicle and then scare the bejesus and threaten with his vehicle—using it as a weapon,” the teacher said.
“I don’t see how that is in any way OK or—to take this to the next level—does that mean that it should be legal for this man to have hit me in the face since he disagreed with me and I was protesting?”
Despite the incident, the teacher said the Friday protests McGregor will continue.
“The commons are a place to go and, as the first amendment says, air our grievances and demonstrate and use our voice to have our government or our people representing us to hear us,” the teacher said.
UPDATE (Aug. 9, 2022): This story has been updated with the modified charges against Ronald Lee Paradine.
by Ty Rushing
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