After the pro-life pregnancy center he runs outside Buffalo was firebombed and vandalized on June 7, James Harden gave investigators video-surveillance footage of the attack, along with what he described as a “mountain of other evidence.”
Now, frustrated that no arrests have been made in the case after more than three months, he wants the footage back.
“It’s Day 106. There have been no arrests. There have been over 50 attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers. And our patience is at an end,” Harden, president and CEO of CompassCare Pregnancy Services, told CNA on Wednesday.
Harden said that he has asked both the FBI and local police for access to the footage so he can make a copy of it, to no avail. The police showed him still images taken from the video, he said, but would not give him access to the footage itself.
So on Tuesday CompassCare filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order the police department to provide CompassCare with a copy of the footage.
“Time is of the essence to commence a civil litigation because the longer time goes by the more likely it will be that those responsible for the firebombing will spoliate other evidence,” reads the complaint, which was filed in state Supreme Court in Buffalo.
The legal action is the latest manifestation of mounting frustration about what some see as a lackluster response by the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies to the wave of violent attacks on pro-life groups and Catholic churches across the U.S. since an early draft of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked on May 2.
The same day CompassCare filed its lawsuit, Republican Reps. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington introduced a bill that, among other things, would require the Biden administration to publicly report its handling of the investigation and prosecution of those engaging in “domestic violent extremism” against pregnancy centers.
The legislation, called the Protect Pregnancy Care Centers Act of 2022, already has 28 co-sponsors and boasts the support of national pro-life organizations, including SBA Pro-Life America, the March for Life, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The June 7 attack on CompassCare’s clinic, located in Amherst, New York, is one of at least 18 attributed to assailants invoking the pro-abortion moniker “Jane’s Revenge.” To date, there have been no arrests in any of those cases, Fox News reported last week.
In fact, no arrests have been reported in the more than 50 vandalism attacks on pregnancy centers since the Supreme Court leak, according to CNA’s tracker of these crimes.
“The public has a right to know what’s going on,” Harden told CNA.
“There is a serious sickness in the body politic of America and the FBI isn’t even talking about it,” he said. “It’s the largest law enforcement agency on the globe and it appears that they’re treating this like some sort of bubble gum theft.”
In the attack on CompassCare’s Amherst facility, windows were shattered, an office was burned and heavily damaged, and the words “Jane was here” were spray-painted on the side of the building.
In an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo not long after the attack, Harden said it was clear from video footage that “multiple perpetrators” were involved.
“We had video footage on security cameras trained at all the points of penetration,” he said at the time. You can watch the full interview with Arroyo in the video below.
Harden told CNA he does not understand why the Amherst Police Department has not released the video to the public. He said the footage shows clear figures and license plates that ought to make it possible to identify someone. CompassCare was not able to make a copy of the footage before handing it over to authorities because of the damage to its building, its lawsuit notes.
A ‘quiet’ investigation?
The Amherst Police Department did not respond to CNA’s request for comment. In a statement released Aug. 1, the department said it was “working diligently” with the FBI to resolve the case.
“There have already been multiple leads examined and we are continuing to follow up with those at this time,” the statement read. Anyone with information about the case should contact the police department at 716-689-1311, referencing case number 22-224665, the statement added.
Stanley J. Silwa, the Amherst town attorney, told Buffalonews.com that giving CompassCare a copy of the footage would put the police investigation in jeopardy and added that the police would release the footage after the investigation is complete.
(Story continues below)
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“Apparently they don’t like the explanation,” Silwa said, referring to CompassCare officials. “They should understand that.”
In an interview with the Epoch Times, Silwa said that the police department wants a “quiet” investigation because of fears that “these people don’t go further underground, as they may already be.”
“You’re aware of all the nut jobs out there with guns and AK-47s, bombing and killing people because they have certain political views,” Sliwa said in the interview.
Asked to elaborate on which people he was referring to, Silwa told the Epoch Times he was referring to the riot on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Silwa clarified that he was not linking supporters of CompassCare with the Capitol riot.
Silwa was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Joseph Bukuras is a journalist at the Catholic News Agency. Joe has prior experience working in state and federal government, in non-profits, and Catholic education. He has contributed to an array of publications and his reporting has been cited by leading news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America. He is based out of the Boston area.
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