by Chris Boate | CNN
The Knoxville Fire Department said Thursday that the fire that destroyed a Planned Parenthood facility in Tennessee on New Year’s Eve was deliberately started.
The fire started just after 6:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve when firefighters responded to the facility with nine firefighting units and 30 fire department members. The fire completely destroyed the building, with the department calling it a “total loss”.
The building was being renovated at the time of the fire, so it was closed for business and according to the fire department no casualties have been reported.
“Knoxville Fire Department investigators, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), have thoroughly investigated the December 31, 710 N. Cherry Street – Planned Parenthood fire and determined the fire. deliberately set by person or persons, who remain unknown at this time,” the fire department said in a statement.
Authorities have offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the prosecution of anyone involved in the fire.
Planned Parenthood has more than 600 health centers across the United States that provide a range of reproductive health services, including abortion.
The arson was not the first time the Knoxville facility had been targeted.
On January 22, 2021 — the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v Wade abortion ruling — someone shot down the front glass door of the facility and bullet holes were also found behind the front reception area, according to Knoxville Police. ,
US courts have come under fire amid a nationwide debate over abortion. More recently, abortion providers asked the Supreme Court a conservative federal appeals court requirement to back Texas’ six-week abortion ban to a district court judge, who had previously ruled in their favor.
Planned Parenthood described the arson as appalling and said it would rebuild.
“While the investigation continues, Planned Parenthood now turns to recovery and renewal,” said Ashley Cofield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood for Tennessee and North Mississippi. “Our priority is to establish a safe operating site and to reconnect services to our patients as quickly as possible. While rebuilding it will take time, we are committed to our patients in East Tennessee and will take this onslaught for those in need of health care.” Will not let that take away from the services they rely on,” Caufield said.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said the attack was more than the building itself.
“It should be clarified that these heinous acts go much further than property damage – they harm patients who depend on safe Planned Parenthood health centers, staff and providers to receive reliable, essential health care services. are,” she said.