Time Capsule: Community Forum

From OCTOBER 24, 1994 

Devastation, Misinformation, And the Chico Clinic Bombing [no author credit]

Sunday, October 9 [1994], in the early hours of the morning, both the Redding Feminist Women’s Health Center and the Chico Planned Parenthood were severely damaged in fires that were deliberately set. The arson attacks were followed by community outrage and public outcry over what many of us believe to be acts of political terrorism.

They were also followed by misinformation.

The Chico Enterprise Record ran an article stating that the clinics suffered “not much damage.” In truth, the Planned Parenthood building on Vallombrosa suffered massive damage, with much of the rear portion of the building completely destroyed.

According to a Planned Parenthood representative, the building suffered at least $100,000 in structural losses, and has a projected amount of $250,000 in losses total. Because the attack on the Chico clinic took place in the back of the building, it may look like “not much damage” to passers-by, but those who have actually seen the damage report a common experience: that of awe at the devastation that the fire left behind.

The E-R article also reports that, the clinic expects “to continue offering abortions” and goes on to tell readers which days they are performed, and describe what precautions are taken to protect clients and staff on those days. The information here is true, but what is omitted from the report is that 91 percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are unrelated to abortion, and those services too were taken away from the community by those responsible for the bombing.

The goal of Planned Parenthood, said a representative who spoke at Chico State last Friday, is to promote “health education for women and men, wanted children, and strong families.” Yes, this includes offering abortion services, but it also means providing pregnancy testing, cancer screening, HIV testing, and increasingly; primary care for families of lower income. It is from the limiting or lack of these services that the Chico community will primarily suffer in upcoming months, and it is the community as a whole that will suffer.

The Chico Planned Parenthood—which in addition to being partially destroyed by fire, suffered smoke and water damage in every part of the building—will not be reopened for three to four months. Some services will be provided at a temporary location at 199 East 19th Street, beginning with education, pregnancy testing, and referrals and will build back up to a full range of services, except abortions. While the clinic is out of commission, patients will also be referred to the Paradise clinic, which provides all the same services but is a smaller facility.

The CSU Chico Women’s Center, members of Chico’s NOW chapter, and other concerned members of the community held a demonstration in support of Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, October 11, held signs on the corners proclaiming their support for the clinic, protesting violence as a means of political action, and point to the irony of bombs being used to send a “pro-life” message.

Although there is no evidence as of yet, it is likely that the bombing was an anti-abortionist act. People who drove by the demonstrators honked their horns and gave thumbs-up signs to show their support. There was also a rally held in the Chico State Free Speech area on Friday and a silent candlelight vigil at the clinic on Saturday night.

Planned Parenthood needs support in the forms of donations and volunteers in order to rebuild the clinic and continue to provide services. If you are outraged, as many of us are, at this violent act of terrorism, please make your voice heard! It is not just money that is needed, but support of the Planned Parenthood staff, who work under the threat of terrorism daily, and expression of Chico citizens’ anger at the attack. So, don’t keep your rage bottled up! Write letters: to newspaper editors, city council members, members of Congress, someone! And, if you want to help, just call Planned Parenthood and see what they need.

Rue Barbs 

by Stephen T. Davis 

California’s governor, with the blessings of San Francisco’s mayor, and Chico’s Chamber potentate, vetoed Assembly Bill 252194, which would have added homelessness to the list of hate-crime categories. Thus, it’s kind of open season for those who want to hunt and haunt my street friends. In this vein I am offering our City Council and Police Department had an idea that could end all “aggressive panhandling.” (Now, Drake Homes, which is trying to buy a Council seat via someone named Bill Shelgram, is asking the City for financial aid in purchasing development space: if that isn’t aggressive panhandling, tell me what is).

Anyway, since Senate Bill 583-94 makes it a crime to possess aerosol paint ‘’with the intent” to commit graffiti, our Mayor, whose sympathetic regard for the public is widely known, should introduce a resolution making it a crime to appear anywhere “with the intent” to panhandle. In this way all local law enforcement agencies could make an early morning sweep around the Jesus Center and Chapmantown. Let us hope that the world’s most aggressive panhandler never comes to our Christian town. I wonder how Tom GUAriNO would publicize Chico’s arresting Mother Teresa as she entered the city limits.

Another bill vetoed by the governor: Senate Bill 1691 would have made all state armories available to nonprofit and governmental agencies as shelters for the homeless on a year-round basis. Let me be the first to wish him a Merry Christmas.

Among the silliest things in town: gringo radio announcers mispronouncing Tres Hombres, margaritas, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Ole’.

Word of the Week: crapulous (don’t let the first syllable mislead you!) The word “tourism” inches steadily closer to being included in my private list of obscenities. Item: When cholera appeared in the Mexican province of Chiapas, the federal government refused to send doctors and medicine because the publicity might frighten away U.S. tourists.

Item: San Francisco Mayor Jordan’s harassment of the homeless is motivated primarily by their incompatibility with the city’s ‘’tourist image.” Item: Headline of an article about the terrifying plague in India: “Problem for doctors is a nightmare for travel industry.” Bon voyage!

Quote of the Week: “I raise the philosophical question: Are politicians actually capable of talking rationally about crime without petty, partisan politics intruding?” – Molly Ivins, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

I have lost thirteen pounds so far campaigning. If this keeps up, I will be the first Councilman ever wheeled into the Chamber hooked up to an oxygen tank. (I know a few who will start reaching for their cigarette lighters.)

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