Abortion Maya Boddie women's rights

How an Illinois ‘Extremist’ Failed at ‘Arson Attempt’ of Potential Abortion Clinic: Report

Although the 73-year-old's mission epically failed, he told police the day after his attempt, "If I could sneak in with a gas can and a match, I'd go in there again."
Image via Rena Schild/Shutterstock.

By Maya Boddie / AlterNet

An Illinois man, Philip J. Buyno, recently attempted to set an empty building ablaze when he “heard” it could potentially become an abortion clinic, Rolling Stone reports.

Buyno, who was arrested three times, according to Rolling Stone, “for trespassing at Planned Parenthood in Peoria, Illinois,” in 2019, “allegedly drove his 2013 Passat — loaded with old tires, firewood, flares, and cans of gasoline and antifreeze — backwards into the building.”

Support our Independent Journalism — Donate Today!

Although the 73-year-old’s mission epically failed, he told police the day after his attempt, “If I could sneak in with a gas can and a match, I’d go in there again.”

Rolling Stone reports:

The arson attempt, according to the FBI affidavit, quickly devolved into a comedy of errors: ‘After the Passat got stuck, Buyno was trapped inside and could not get out. Buyno stated that he threw the red gas can out of the window so the gas would spill and he could light the gas on fire, but the can landed in an upright position. Buyno told us that he intended to burn his own car, along with the building, but he never got the chance because he got stuck inside the Passat and then the police arrived.’

Rolling Stone

Since a local eye doctor retired and closed the office’s doors in 2017, “the still-empty building has been the site of protests, the subject of a controversial city ordinance and, this past weekend, the target of an arson attack,” according to Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone also notes:

There was no formal announcement that Counseling of Indiana, operators of the Indianapolis-based Clinic for Women, which offers first-trimester abortions and other reproductive health care, was planning to move to Logan Avenue. The building was purchased by an LLC with a different name; outside, the sign still reads Dillman Eye Care. But earlier this year, residents became aware of the clinic’s plans and, encouraged by Mark Lee Dickson, a well-known activist and lawyer from Texas, began organizing to prevent it from opening.

Rolling Stone

Furthermore, Buyno’s attempt comes just “weeks after a closely-divided Danville City Council voted to prohibit the shipping and delivery of abortion pills and ‘abortion-related paraphernalia’ within city limits,” according to Rolling Stone.

However, Dickson claimed, “Phil Buyno does not represent the peaceful, non-violent, and non-destructive pro-life movement that I am a part of. I find it despicable that someone who claims to value life would do something so stupid to risk both his own life and the lives of others. Phil Buyno is a ‘bad actor’ whose actions are criminal and I hope he gets the just punishment he deserves.”

Planned Parenthood of Illinois President Jennifer Welch said, “Illinois is a haven for reproductive rights in the Midwest. We know that we’re going to continue to be targeted by anti-abortion extremists and so we really have to remain vigilant. Whether it’s physical violence, or legislative violence, or ordinances — all of those have the impact of keeping patients from getting the care that they need and deserve. It is a chilling effect on people’s access to care that we really worry about. Even if that Danville ordinance won’t stand, it’s already frightened patients.”

Rolling Stone’s full report is available at this link (subscription required).

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

* indicates required

Maya Boddie

Maya Boddie is a political reporter and the evening and weekend editor at the progressive online news publication, AlterNet. Visit the link below to read more by her.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments