Vandals target Bethlehem House in Easthampton
Published: 08/18/2022 20:56:54
Modified: 08/18/2022 20:53:28
EASTHAMPTON – Police are investigating a reported act of vandalism at Bethlehem House early Thursday morning, according to Chief Robert Alberti.
Red and black spray-painted messages appeared on the sidewalk and benches outside the city’s nonprofit. A message on the sidewalk reads: “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you!” and another on side-by-side benches reads “Jane’s Revenge.”
In addition to the sidewalk and benches, a no trespassing sign, which warns passers-by that the property uses CCTV, was covered in an unidentifiable image in black spray paint. Another sign, which reads “Bethlehem House Celebrates Life,” was also tagged with black spray paint in what appears to be a letter A surrounded by a circle. Red paint was also streaked on the side of the Knipfer Avenue building.
It is currently unknown what caused the act of vandalism or what time the incident occurred, police said.
Alberti said in an email that police are investigating the incident. “Because this is currently under investigation, we have no further details to release at this time,” he said.
Bethlehem House describes itself as a pro-life ministry in which volunteers provide free diapers, wipes, baby clothes, strollers, games and baby seats to women and their families facing pregnancy crisis. car. The non-profit organization receives support from the annual Catholic Appeal of the Diocese of Springfield.
Bishop William D. Byrne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said he was very sad to hear that vandals had targeted the house in Bethlehem.
“The spray-painted messages outside the building appear to have one purpose, and that is to intimidate the good people who depend on the help provided there, as well as the volunteers at Bethlehem House whose only purpose is to help women and their families facing pregnancy crisis,” Byrne said in a statement. “No matter where you stand on the issue of abortion, I pray that all people of good will join me in condemning this act and all acts of vandalism and violence against any group. We are a people of life called to lead with love. This is what we will continue to do. Please join me in praying for all those affected by this incident.
The graffiti, “Jane’s Revenge”, also appeared at the Clearway Clinic in Worcester in July. Clearway describes itself as an online women’s health clinic and also has a location in Springfield. Under the Corporations Division of the state, the nonprofit is registered as a religious entity. Although no one has taken responsibility for the vandalism in Easthampton, Jane’s Revenge has been cited in national media in recent months as an extreme abortion rights group behind acts of vandalism and violence across the country. .
The Bethlehem home has been in the spotlight in recent months after the city council held two well-attended public hearings for a draft ordinance aimed at ending misleading advertising practices by pregnancy centers offering limited services.
Under the originally drafted order, presented by At-Large Councilman Owen Zaret, no limited-service pregnancy center, intending to provide any pregnancy-related service, would be permitted to do or to disseminate “any statement regarding any pregnancy-related service”. or the provision of any pregnancy-related service which is misleading, whether by statement or omission, and which a Limited Service Pregnancy Center knows or reasonably should know to be misleading” through public advertisements in the media or the Internet.
Violations of the order could be subject to fines of up to $300.
Initially, the proposed ordinance was approved and recommended by the ordinance committee in a 3-0 vote, but was sent back to the committee in July after councilors raised concerns that the wording of “deceptive practices was not well defined.
At both public hearings, several participants raised concerns about the effect the ordinance might have on the house in Bethlehem.
Zaret, chairman of the Public Security Committee, condemned the vandalism.
“Vandalism of any kind for any purpose has no place in our community or country. It is an act of extremism and terrorism. We resolve disagreements through conversation, not violence” “, Zaret said in a statement to the Gazette. “As a resident, it makes me sad that such hatred exists among us.”
Emily Thurlow can be contacted at [email protected]