Metairie man booked on hate crime count for pulling down abortion clinic sign _lowres

William Kennedy

In the dead of night, authorities say, William Kennedy pulled down a sign outside a Metairie abortion clinic. Now he has been arrested and accused of a hate crime.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office booked Kennedy, 27, on Thursday on counts of simple criminal damage to property and a hate crime in connection with the incident, which occurred outside the Causeway Medical Clinic on Aug. 1.

In an episode captured on video surveillance, the Metairie resident drove up to the clinic on Ridgelake Drive in a white four-door Chevrolet and pulled down the business’ sign, authorities said.

A clinic employee who declined to give her name said that on video surveillance, Kennedy “looked like a really angry young man.”

“He just jumped around and really looked angry,” she said. “He actually scared me.”

The employee said Kennedy also appeared to have pulled down a sign on another side of the clinic early on May 29.

“Because he’d been by twice, next time I was afraid that he would come while we were all here,” the employee said.

It was not clear how the Sheriff’s Office determined Kennedy’s motive for causing the damage amounted to a hate crime.

The clinic employee said she did not recognize Kennedy as a regular protester at the site.

JPSO spokesman Col. John Fortunato said the investigation was ongoing.

Loyola University law professor Dane Ciolino said the hate crime count “certainly seems to fit the statute, though you can expect his lawyer to raise First Amendment issues.”

Protesters regularly gather outside the Metairie abortion clinic.

In New Orleans, abortion opponents have been targeting a planned Planned Parenthood clinic on South Claiborne Avenue.