Update: Texas State Senator and Planned Parenthood Supporter's Office Is Damaged in Firebombing, Suspect Arrested

(Updated below)

In Texas, a disturbing incident took place last night that at first glance to be part of a broader pattern of harassment and intimidation and worse of abortion providers and supporters:

Police are trying to identify the man who entered the West 7th office of State Sen. Wendy Davis Tuesday afternoon and threw two firebombs just outside the door.

Two staffers were in the third floor office when the attack occurred around 4 o'clock. One of them had to leap over the flames to escape, then went to the break room, grabbed an extinguisher and put out the fire.

No one was hurt, but the lawmaker's office was damaged by the fire.

Update: an arrest has been made, but the name of the perpetrator has not been released.

Update II: Here are some details about the suspect from TPM:

A homeless man with a history of mental illness was arrested in connection with the firebombing of the Fort Worth offices of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), an official with the city’s fire department said on Wednesday.

Police arrested Cedric Steele, 40, on Tuesday night, just hours after he was suspected of hitting the senator’s district office with a pair of Molotov cocktails, fire Capt. Tom Crow told TPM.

Here is the thing. Mental illness doesn't mean that the target, a prominent woman who supported women's health, was random. Here are some tweets that demonstate how a charged climate can still lead to this kind of violence. 

These points are valid. Although we can't draw any definitive conclusions, the last time Sen. Davis was in the news, she was vocally supporting Planned Parenthood, which is under seige in that state:

Dozens braved a steady rain Saturday to protest feared cuts to the women's health program in Texas.

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) made a very personal plea, telling the crowd that she used services from Planned Parenthood years ago when she was a single teenage mom. "I, like many poor women, relied on that as my only sole source for health care," she said.

Davis worries that 130,000 women may suddenly lose cancer screenings and contraceptive services because of the battle over funding Planned Parenthood.

A local video report from the rally earlier this month is below. It shows how present Davis was in this fight.

It's certainly true that we can't definitively pin down a motivation for the act of arson and violence here, but as ScatX, the blogger behind the "Keep Your Boehner Out of my Uterus" tweeted, there is a distinct pattern here, one the media doesn't want to face.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at March 21, 2012, 4:16am

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