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Vandalism investigated at Columbus Planned Parenthood clinic

COLUMBUS, Ind. – Columbus Police are investigating an act of vandalism that left the front sign at a Planned Parenthood clinic splattered with red paint.

Columbus Police Lt. Matt Harris says the vandalism was discovered Tuesday morning by employees arriving at work in a different office in the same building, located near U.S. 31 and Washington Street on the north side of the city.

The Planned Parenthood sign had been splattered with bold, red paint. The paint had also splattered onto the front walkway of an Orthotic and Prosthetic Design office right next to the Planned Parenthood sign.

Harris said officers were not able to locate any nearby security cameras that may have captured the suspect or suspects on video.

Investigators are asking anyone from the public who may have information about the vandal to contact them.

“If someone in the community saw something that looks suspicious or somebody milling around during the overnight or early morning hours,” Harris said.

Ali Slocum, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the organization was informed of the vandalism by Columbus Police Tuesday morning. The clinic was not open at the time the vandalism was discovered.

“We are working with local authorities and our insurance company in Columbus,” Slocum said.  “Our health center doors are open and will stay open.”

A woman who works in a different office in the same building did not want to be identified, but said the situation has made it uncomfortable to come to work.

“I was concerned, a little nervous about what was going on, what was happening,” she said. “Just being by Planned Parenthood and the things that go on.”

The same woman hopes the red paint will be the end of the trouble and the situation won’t escalate into something more.

“You never know if they’re going to be here when we get here in the morning to start working,” she said.  “Or if they’re going to come in the middle of the day and do something else, or what the situation was about.”

Fierce debate over abortion and abortion rights has put Planned Parenthood clinics in several states in the crosshairs for destructive vandalism and violent attacks in recent years.

A Planned Parenthood office in Bloomington was attacked by a man with red paint an an ax in 2013.

Benjamin Curell was arrested and charged after police say he broke into the Bloomington office and did roughly $2500 in damage to the interior and exterior of the clinic.

At the time of his arrest, Curell told authorities he targeted Planned Parenthood because abortions were performed there.  Police said the man stated his intent was to damage the building because they “kill” and “murder” babies.

Slocum pointed out that abortions are not performed at the Columbus clinic was that was vandalized Tuesday morning.

“Safety and security for our patients and staff is always at the forefront of what we do at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky,” Slocum said.