CINCINNATI -- There was an unusually light lunch crowd at Fountain Square Thursday as a jumbo-sized television screen showed what an organization described as "graphic abortion video."
Nearly every table at the popular downtown spot was empty – and the few diners who showed up said they weren't enjoying the experience.
"It's pretty gross," said John Beebe, who was sitting and eating his lunch Thursday in the square. "I just try not to look at it."
Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization that describes itself as "a social action movement seeking to end human rights injustice," rented out Fountain Square for the demonstration.
3CDC, the organization in charge of Fountain Square, said in a Facebook post that the city-owned space is open and available to "all members of the public pursuant to the constitutions of the United State and the State of Ohio."
The group was not allowed to use Fountain Square's privately-financed jumbo screen but brought in a large screen of their own to show a video featuring "prenatal and abortion imagery."
"It is certainly your prerogative to avoid the Square during this permitted event, but we hope you will understand that it is within the constitutional rights of this country," 3CDC said in its Facebook post. "We also hope you will understand that other entities, organizations, and individuals in the Fountain Square and downtown area are not necessarily associated with the event and should not be boycotted or avoided because of individual beliefs about the permitted event."
The 9 by 12-foot TV screen was accompanied by high school and college students holding pro-life signs. The event ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Created Equal's Executive Director Mark Harrington said his organization has pioneered the use of "cutting edge video technology to represent the victims of abortion" to audiences across the country.
"You need a strong message today, to cut through all the apathy and propaganda out there about this," Harrington said. "We believe abortion is disturbing. That's why the photos are disturbing."
Many Fountain Square goers said they didn't appreciate the "in-your-face" presentation of the group's message.
"It turns a lot of people off," said Cedric Reynolds, who was walking through the Fountain Square Thursday.
But that was not the case for Tobias Lundy, who saw the display on his way to work.
"We need more of this, because a lot of people are not aware of it," Lundy said. "A lot of people don't care. But it still indirectly or directly affects them."
Created Equal also has plans for similar demonstrations in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Columbus.
Fountain Square is located at 520 Vine Street.