Wednesday’s bomb threat wasn’t the first threat Planned Parenthood on East Indiana Avenue has faced.
“Over the last couple years, we have seen an escalation in rhetoric against Planned Parenthood and abortion providers,” said Paul Dillon, vice president of public affairs with Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. “That fuels violent acts and we’ve seen that firsthand at Planned Parenthood so we take these threats very, very seriously.”
Around 3 p.m. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a man identifying himself as Jermain Wakefield, 45, called 911 saying he’d placed bombs at Planned Parenthood on the 100 block of East Indiana Avenue, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.
The Spokane Police Department Behavioral Health Unit has come into contact with Wakefield on several occasions, the release said. Police contacted the director of that Planned Parenthood to alert them of the threat.
Police did a sweep of the location and did not find any explosives, the release said.
Wakefield was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of making bomb threats. Police booked him into the Spokane County Jail and he was released on Thursday.
Protesters, including The Church At Planned Parenthood, which has met weekly outside the Indiana Avenue clinic, “absolutely” fuel threats, Dillon said.
“I don’t need to quote what they’re saying about us. But their ultimate goal is to shut us down. It’s building a culture of fear and stigmatization,” Dillon said.
In September, Planned Parenthood won a preliminary injunction in Spokane Superior Court that ordered the protesters to move across the street and wait to begin demonstrations until at least 7 p.m., after the clinic closes.
The Church at Planned Parenthood Spokane posted to Facebook Tuesday: “The left in Spokane is just steamrolling over Christians and they get away with it for now. Terrible.”
Dillon said Planned Parenthood is resilient. The clinic on Indiana Avenue is one of the best in the West, he said, and it’s currently providing a wide range of medical services, including primary care and behavioral health.
The clinic also employs a “really incredible” security team, Dillon said.
As for Wakefield, Dillon said he hopes the suspect “gets the help he needs.”
“We have a mental health crisis,” Dillon said. “It’s really sad and unfortunate that he made that call. It’s certainly scary for staff, patients and just the community’s safety.”
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