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Congress asking FBI about excessive force in string of FACE Act arrests

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FBI hand gun

Shutterstock | Dzelat

J-P Mauro - published on 10/12/22

After arresting a Pennsylvania father of 7 in front of his family at gunpoint, they do it again to a Tennessee father of 11.

Weeks after the Department of Justice’s controversial early morning arrest of a Pennsylvania father of seven, agents again employed staggering force to arrest a Tennessee man on charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Now, Congressional lawmakers want an inquiry to be opened to investigate the department’s action, which comes as the DOJ reported 11 more individuals arrested on similar charges. 

Mark Houck

The controversy began on September 23, when the FBI arrested Mark Houck, 48, for allegedly violating the FACE Act during a protest outside an abortion clinic, in October 2021. Houck is accused of twice assaulting a 72-year-old man identified by the DOJ as “B.L.” In both instances Houck allegedly pushed the man to the ground, with the second push causing injury.

A report from the Christian Post, however, presents Houck’s side of the story, which suggests that “B.L.” started the altercation. According to Houck, “B.L.” was harassing him and his son, so the two tried to walk away. “B.L.” is said to have followed the pair and directed the majority of his ire at Houck’s son. This continuing harassment led Houck to push the man away. 

Nearly one year after these events, the FBI burst into Houck’s home just after dawn, with guns drawn, and arrested Houck in front of his wife and seven children. The staggering show of force has drawn sharp criticism from pro-life leaders, and politicians have accused the FBI of using Houck as an example to further the current administration’s agenda. If convicted, Houck can face up to 11 years in prison and fines in excess of $350,000. 

Paul Vaughn

Now, the FBI is in the spotlight again as footage of another arrest has emerged on Twitter. The video, which begins after the officials arrested Paul Vaughn on similar FACE Act violations, shows FBI agents refusing to answer Vaughn’s wife’s questions about the arrest. 

According to CBN News, Vaughn, 55, was arrested while several of his 11 children were preparing to go to school. In the video the agents can be seen armed to the teeth with assault rifles and body armor.

Eleven arrested

Vaughn is just one of 11 more arrests announced by the DOJ on October 5. The statement alleges that Chester Gallagher, 73, used social media to organize “anti-abortion events” in Nashville. The 10 other named individuals, called “co-conspirators,” are accused of using Facebook to organize a blockade around an abortion clinic.

One of the accused even streamed the event on Facebook Live, where they can be seen blocking the entrance to a patient and employee. Charges range from the same as Houck’s, 11 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, to a single year in prison and $10,000 in fines. 


Now Congress is asking Attorney General Merrick Garland for answers as to why such force was employed to arrest suspected FACE Act violators. In response to the arrest of Mark Houck, 22 Republican lawmakers have gathered for the inquiry. According to National Review, this group wrote in a letter: 

“We request an explanation for the excessive level of force used by the FBI in this case, and why the power of federal law enforcement was once again used against an American citizen in what should be a state and local matter.”

The group decried the presence of unholstered weapons in the presence of Houck’s children and accused the DOJ of using their power to further political objectives: 

“Surely, the FBI must have an extraordinary reason for showing up at the home of an American family, allegedly with roughly 25 heavily armed federal agents, and arresting a father in front of his seven children,” the lawmakers said. “At the moment, it appears to be an extraordinary overreach for political ends.”

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