A vandal smashed 14 windows at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Spokane Valley on Saturday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the organization.
Paul Dillon, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, said the vandalism occurred around 12:30 p.m. and that a suspect was arrested on site soon after.
Dillon said multiple witnesses observed the incident, which was recorded by security cameras.
“He collected a bunch of rocks and started smashing windows in the building, including every front window and the main clinic entrance,” Dillon said of the suspect.
Dillon said his group has “reason to believe it certainly was not random vandalism.” According to Dillon, a responding officer said the suspect “called Planned Parenthood ‘baby killers.’ ”
Dillon also pointed to a Friday court hearing in which a Spokane County Superior Court judge heard arguments in the lawsuit the local Planned Parenthood organization filed against the Church at Planned Parenthood, or TCAPP, alleging its frequent religious services and noisy demonstrations held outside the Spokane clinic have interfered with treatment and intimidated patients and staff.
The named defendants include former state Rep. Matt Shea; Covenant Church and Covenant Christian School; pastors Ken Peters, Gabe Blomgren and Seth Haberman; and Clay Roy, who is described as the director of TCAPP.
In September, a Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction that required TCAPP to gather across the street from the Indiana Avenue clinic, or anywhere at least 35 feet from the building, instead of directly adjacent to the property. That didn’t stop TCAPP from gathering outside the clinic.
On Friday, Planned Parenthood sought a permanent injunction against the group.
Dillon speculated that Saturday’s vandalism might be connected to Friday’s court action.
“You can’t escape that in terms of motive,” Dillon said. “This coming right after certainly is alarming.”
Dillon also said the vandalism comes after a ratcheting up, both locally and nationally, of “inflammatory, hateful rhetoric.”
TCAPP did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Efforts to reach the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Valley Police Department were also unsuccessful.
The Planned Parenthood Clinic in Spokane Valley was targeted by extremists in 1996, when members of a white-supremacist group set off bombs there, at the local Spokesman-Review office and at a nearby bank.
While it was too early to repair what Dillon estimated was $25,000 in damage from Saturday’s vandalism, the windows were boarded up Monday, when the clinic was closed in a scheduled observance of the July Fourth holiday.
Dillon said the clinic will reopen Tuesday without any interruption in its health care services.
“We have an incredible staff that keep doing the work,” he said, “and this just continues to strengthen our commitment to patients throughout the region.”
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