WASHINGTON–A California man pleaded guilty in federal court Oct. 7 to one count of arson, one count of damaging religious property and one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to damage the property of a reproductive health services facility. These charges stem from Mower’s lighting a fire inside a Planned Parenthood clinic and throwing a brick at a mosque in Madera.
During his plea, Donny Eugene Mower, 38, of Madera, admitted that in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2010, he constructed a Molotov cocktail by stuffing a fuel-soaked cloth into a beer bottle. He then drove to Madera Planned Parenthood Clinic, lit the Molotov cocktail, and threw it through a ground-floor window of the clinic. As a result of the ensuing fire, the clinic sustained more than $26,000 of damage and had to close for two days.
Mower also acknowledged that on Aug. 20, 2010, two days after placing a sign in front of Masjid Madera, a local mosque, that read “No temple for the god of terrorism at ground zero. ANB,” he threw a brick at the front of the mosque and damaged its facade. On Aug. 24, 2010, Mower left additional signs at the mosque, stating “Wake up America, the enemy is here” and “American Nationalist Brotherhood.” Mower admitted that he threw the brick at Masjid Madera because of the race, color or ethnic characteristics of the individuals associated with the mosque.
“Interference with the lawful work of reproductive health clinics will not be tolerated; nor will attacks directed at places of worship because of the perceived ethnicity of those who worship there,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will aggressively prosecute those who carry out these acts.”
“We will vigorously safeguard the right of Muslim Americans to practice their religion free from the fear of intimidation, and the right of reproductive health centers to conduct their activities free from violence,” said U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner for the Eastern District of California. “Donny Mower’s campaign of hate and intimidation is over, but the work of the U.S. Justice Department in protecting constitutional rights is unending.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2012. Mower faces a prison sentence of five to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000 on the arson charge. He also faces sentences of up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both, on the damaging religious property and FACE Act charges.