In late July, an unidentified arsonist set fire to a California Planned Parenthood in the early morning — a criminal act that was fortunately captured on surveillance video that police recently released to the public in hopes of identifying the perpetrator.
According to ABC News, video footage shows the arsonist dousing cardboard outside of a Planned Parenthood in Watsonville, California, around 4 a.m. local time on July 20. A local reportedly called 911 after noticing smoke coming from the building around 7 a.m., and firefighters extinguished the fire minutes after arriving; still, police said, the building sustained moderate damage.
Abortion-providing clinics have long been the targets of hateful, disruptive attacks — and they’ve seen an increase in this sort of violence in recent years. According to a report from the National Abortion Federation, 2017 saw an increase in death threats, trespassing, and obstruction; NAF in part blames this escalation to the current political environment, as it has “emboldened” anti-abortion extremists. (Incidents of arson, conversely, have steadily decreased over the past three decades, as NAF counted only 13 attempts between 2010 and 2017, in comparison to 96 between 1990 and 1999.)
Now that police have released the footage of the recent California incident to the public, the FBI is offering a hefty $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to the unidentified suspect’s arrest. While the arsonists face is concealed in the video, Watsonville police said in a statement that they’re “hoping someone will recognize this person based off of his/her physical description, clothing and mannerisms.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ely Uretsky at 831-768-3356.