PORTLAND, Ore. — Multiple regional FBI offices, including the one in Portland, have begun offering a $25,000 reward for information as part of a nationwide investigation into series of arson and vandalism incidents at reproductive health care centers last year.
Three of the 10 incidents were in Oregon. The other seven targeted facilities were in Colorado, California, Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin, according to a National FBI news release. The incidents all occurred between March and July 2022, with a majority in June.
The first Oregon incident was at the Oregon Right to Life building in Keizer, according to a news release from the Portland FBI office. On the night of May 8, police received reports of someone throwing multiple Molotov cocktails at the building. Newly released security video from the incident shows someone pulling items from the trunk of a white sedan, possibly a 2017 or 2018 Hyundai Elantra. After an explosion a person is seen running back to the car and taking off.
“It was disconcerting of course and we didn't know if there would be additional attacks,” said Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life. “Even when you disagree with someone very intensely, violence is never the answer.”
The next was on June 10 at the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center. Police responded to an alarm in the early morning hours and found a fire inside the building. Investigators believe it was ignited by Molotov cocktails thrown through a kitchen window. The flames were contained to one room, Gresham Fire told KGW at the time, and damage to the building was moderate but likely repairable.
The third incident was an arson and vandalism attack at the front entrance to the Mother and Child Education Center in Portland between July 4 and July 6, the FBI said. The phrases "IF ABORTION AINT SAFE NEITHER RU JR" and "JANES RVVGG" were spray painted on the building.
“It's devastating and ridiculous. We're just serving people, we're just here to help others,” said executive director, Maura White. She said someone also threw a lit flare into the building.
“The fire investigator said we were lucky,” recalled White. “It got put out. They were like, 'I don't know how this went out without burning.' We were really lucky.”
The graffiti was an apparent reference to the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, stripping away federal constitutional protections for abortion. The decision was released on June 24, but a draft copy of the opinion was leaked publicly in early May.
Most of the targeted buildings appear to have been crisis pregnancy centers or similar operations that typically seek to dissuade women from seeking abortions, although an FBI news release said the California incident targeted a building used by Planned Parenthood.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), contact their local FBI office, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. Tipsters can remain anonymous. The Portland FBI office number is (503) 224-4181.
The National FBI news release also mentioned the $25,000 reward for information in connection with any of the ten incidents.
"Today's announcement reflects the FBI's commitment to vigorously pursue investigations into crimes against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and reproductive health clinics across the country," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. "We will continue to work closely with our national, state, and local law enforcement partners to hold responsible anyone who uses extremist views to justify their criminal actions."