Standing Up to 'Terrorism'
A cross section of Austin business and community leaders have declared war on Chris Danze and his "economic terrorism" attempts to thwart the construction of a Planned Parenthood clinic in South Austin. The group gathered Tuesday morning at Güero's to plot a strategy over breakfast tacos with Planned Parenthood's national president, Gloria Feldt. The idea is to mobilize the business community behind the Planned Parenthood project and to take a unified stand against Danze's harassment tactics.
Four months ago, Danze temporarily halted work on the new facility by waging a boycott against the concrete suppliers and other construction companies associated with the project. Anti-abortion forces resorted to harassing phone calls, e-mails, and pictures of bloody fetuses mailed to participating businesses. The tactics drove off a number of subcontractors and ultimately the general contractor, Browning Construction Co. of San Antonio.
Construction has since resumed on the Ben White Boulevard project, and so has Danze's boycott effort. But this time, Danze has moved beyond harassing contractors; he has taken his bloody-fetus campaign to the corporate customers of some of these contractors, said Glenda Parks, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Austin. Danze's connection to the construction community comes by way of his own concrete supply business, Maldonado & Danze Inc. In an interview with the Chronicle in November, Danze called Planned Parenthood "the single most violent organization in this nation. ... They are more violent than the Crips, the Bloods, and all the Mafioso crime families put together."
Lobbyist and former Mayor Bruce Todd, who led Tuesday's discussion, stopped short of thanking Danze for helping to strengthen the community's resolve to fight extremist efforts. "There are people who are speaking out much more loudly now," Todd said, with such commitment that one could almost forgive him for the line that followed: "Bring it on."