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Back after being banned

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The RV Saltshakers and a group called Marching for Jesus carried signs during the Festival of Lights parade last winter that many people found offensive, which led to the Marching group being banned from the parade.

Members of the RV Saltshakers registered for Ashland’s Fourth of July parade Thursday under a different name, despite opposition from some in the community.

The Saltshakers, an anti-abortion religious organization, often carry signs with images of aborted fetuses at parades and outside of Planned Parenthood, something that offends a lot of people at family-friendly events.

The group members also carry signs that say being homosexual earns death. That sign in particular is the one that got the Marching for Jesus group banned from walking in Ashland parades, because the parade entry rules state that no offensive language can be promoted at the events.

The group was approved to walk at the Fourth of July parade under the name C.O.R.E., which stands for Community Outreach Evangelism, as long as members did not put graphic images on their signs.

The group followed the rules during the parade, but afterward members picked up signs with graphic images plastered on them and demonstrated in Lithia Park, where they could exercise their freedom of speech.

RV Saltshaker organizer Jon Clement said the group displays graphic images at events in order to educate the public. He compared the images to graphic images shown about slavery and the Holocaust.

“It’s education, because according to the Bible, abortion is murder, and murdering children is wrong,” Clement said. “The ultimate thing is we don’t want them to go to hell, we want them to be saved by Jesus.”

A woman named Rianna S., who asked that her last name not be used for fear of being targeted, organized a group of people to stand in support of Planned Parenthood.

She said last year at the Fourth of July parade, she became so upset at their actions that she turned a piece of cardboard into a sign that read, “Donate to Planned Parenthood today.” She said she encouraged people to donate online, but then people began handing her cash.

She raised $1,100 that day, which was all donated to the local facility. This year she wanted to be more organized, so she gathered a group of protesters and had T-shirts and signs made. She also communicated with the Chamber of Commerce and the police department.

“Our intention was not to engage with the Saltshakers, but to have them as a backdrop for our fundraising, and it worked well,” Rianna said.

On July 4, the group raised a little more than $3,100 for Planned Parenthood. Rianna said her goal was $2,000.

“Instead of people getting angry and fighting with the Saltshakers, I wanted to offer a way to support Planned Parenthood and turn it into a positive,” she said. “I know how many people are upset over those signs.”

Rianna said the services Planned Parenthood offers are crucial.

“If you have a woman who has been raped or abused, they offer a safe space for them to take care of themselves, and that’s really something else no other place offers really,” Rianna said. “You can never know why a woman needs to have an abortion. Hopefully no one has to make that decision, but it is better to have a legal option.

“I think it’s important (to support Planned Parenthood), because they provide so much education and safety,” Rianna said. “If there weren’t that safety for women, you could have people seeking unsafe health care and procedures elsewhere.”

Rianna said she’s received a large amount of support the past two years at the parades.

“People were high-fiving us and taking pictures,” Rianna said. “People will stand with us.”

No one from the Ashland Chamber of Commerce was available to comment in time for this story due to the holiday.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood stand with their signs in front of the RV Saltshakers and the signs containing graphic images which have offended families with young children at the Ashland Fourth of July parade. Photo courtesy of Rianna S.{ }
A group of Planned Parenthood supporters stood in front of the RV Saltshakers at the Ashland Fourth of July parade Thursday. The Saltshakers were banned from Ashland parades after breaking the rules last year but were able to sneak in using a different name. Video by Rianna S.Thumbnail