Driver crashes SUV into St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic

Planned Parenthood office
A St. Paul squad was parked in front of the Planned Parenthood office and clinic on Ford Parkway this morning, after a vehicle struck the building. No one was injured as a result of the incident, and the driver was arrested.
MPR Photo/Erika Nelson

A 32-year-old driver is under arrest after driving his SUV into the front of a St. Paul abortion clinic on the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, police said.

The incident happened at 7:30 a.m. at the Planned Parenthood clinic on Ford Parkway in St. Paul.

The clinic's front door was damaged, according to police spokesman Peter Panos. Panos says officers were called to the scene and found the driver waiting outside the vehicle, chanting or praying.

The man was taken to the Ramsey County jail on suspicion of aggravated assault, Panos said, and his vehicle was towed to the city impound lot as police investigated.

Investigators believe the incident was intentional because of where and when it happened, said Panos.

"That's our belief -- that it was an intentional act," he said. "Usually we have some demonstrations there on this day, but someone doing actual damage is very, very rare."

Several employees were in the building at the time, said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola. She said the SUV hit the front door of the clinic two or three times.

When Di Nicola arrived at the clinic, she said the man had gotten out of the SUV and was pacing around it, holding a crucifix and chanting.

"He was agitated and he was saying, 'shut down this Auschwitz,'" she said.

Later Thursday morning, dozens of demonstrators showed up at the clinic -- something Di Nicola said happens every year on the Roe V. Wade anniversary. But the SUV incident came as an unpleasant surprise.

"Nothing violent like this has happened in recent memory here," Di Nicola said.

The landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion was issued Jan. 22, 1973. Tim Stanley, executive director of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said patients were still being seen at the clinic on Thursday.

It's the only Planned Parenthood clinic in Minnesota that performs abortions.

Panos said police were trying to confirm the man's name before forwarding felony charges to the Ramsey County attorney's office.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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