PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — The Republican Party of Pennsylvania is calling for city, state and federal prosecutors to investigate Democratic state Rep. Brian Sims after he recorded himself confronting protesters outside of a Center City Planned Parenthood facility. One video shows Sims berating a woman protester outside the clinic, while the other shows the lawmaker asking viewers to identify three young females he described as protesters.
In a statement, party chairman Val DiGiorgio called Sims’ conduct “outrageous.”
“Elected officials should not use their positions of power to harass citizens who are peacefully protesting. I hope our state and federal prosecutors will undertake review of this matter with the seriousness it deserves and uphold the role for which they were elected to, which demands holding people accountable for their actions,” DiGiorgio said.
In the video shot last week outside a Planned Parenthood facility in his district, Sims peppered the unidentified woman with comments and questions, calling her actions disgusting, racist and shameful. The woman largely ignores him, at one point taking a rosary out of her bag.
“Who would have thought that an old white lady would be out in front of a Planned Parenthood telling people what is right for their bodies,” Sims said in the video. “Shame on you.”
The nine-minute video uploaded to Sims’ Facebook page has been seen more than 1 million times.
In the second video, Sims asked viewers to identify three young females he described as protesters and “pseudo Christians” outside the Planned Parenthood clinic. He offered a reward for the information, promising to donate $100 to Planned Parenthood.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and police are now looking into the videos.
“Not only does Rep. Sims, a former collegiate-level football quarterback, use physical intimidation, but he also threatens people with so-called ‘doxing’ or enticing viewers to provide identifiable information about his targets to increase the harassment and intimidation of his victims,” DiGiorgio wrote in a letter.
Over 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for Sims to resign.
“We call on Representative Brian Sims to resign immediately after this shameful harassment and bullying of a pro-life woman. If he does not resign, the Pennsylvania state legislature should censure him and take whatever other disciplinary measure that are appropriate,” the petition reads.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese has also weighed in, saying Sims’ “actions were unbecoming of an elected official.”
“Our country is one founded on democratic principles and civil discourse in the public square. Our elected officials represent all of their constituents—not just the ones with whom they agree. Representative Sims spoke often of shame and there was plenty of that to be found in his actions, which demonstrated a complete disregard for civility and basic human decency,” Archbishop Charles Chaput said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Sims posted a public apology to his Twitter account.
“What I should have shown you in that video was protesters gathered together to pray at – not to silently pray for people coming in and out of Planned Parenthood,” Sims said.
The representative ended his two-minute video saying, “I was aggressive. Two wrongs don’t make a right and I know I can do better, and I will do better for the women of Pennsylvania.”
A pro-life rally in response to the videos is planned for Friday at 11 a.m. in front of Planned Parenthood.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)