The FBI on Thursday said Donny Eugene Mower, 37, has confessed to the September firebombing of a Planned Parenthood center in Madera, Calif. The FBI said Mower also was responsible for posting hostile signs at a Madera Islamic Center in late August.
The FBI was already investigating the Islamic Center case when a Molotov cocktail sailed through the window of Madera’s Planned Parenthood, injuring no one but causing enough damage to shut down the office for several days.
A previously unknown organization called the “American Nationalist Brotherhood,” or ANB, had taken responsibility for the firebombing and posted signs. Mower has since admitted to being the organization’s founder and only member, and has told agents that he acted alone, the FBI reported.
“No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB,” read one sign the FBI said Mower posted at the mosque. “Wake up America, the enemy is here,” another proclaimed.
Mower also left signs at the Madera County Sheriff’s Department headquarters and at the county courthouse, and sent a letter to Sheriff John Anderson asking him to join the fight against Muslims, the LGBT community, abortion centers, and drug dealers.
Authorities discovered the word “Peckerwood,” apparently a reference to the white nationalist gang called the Peckerwoods, tattooed across Mower’s back, but said they do not believe that he is associated with the gang. They are still determining whether to prosecute one or both of the matters as hate crimes.
Mower’s September firebomb was the first violent attack on the center since it opened 20 years ago. Planned Parenthood spokesperson Patsy Montgomery told the Fresno Bee that the office had been getting threats signed by the ANB for some time but had chosen to keep quiet.
The white nationalist connection did not surprise her. “In the past, when people were arrested for hate crimes against Planned Parenthood [centers nationwide], there has been some connection with white supremacist groups,” Montgomery said.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner told the Los Angeles Times in September that it’s not usual to see a single hate group (as the ANB was still thought to be at the time) with more than one grievance to air. “It’s what they call the ‘mosh pit of hate,’” he said. “A lot of hate crime perpetrators are not single-issue haters.”
California has seen a number of disturbing displays of Islamophobia recently. In February, a hostile mob screaming anti-Muslim epithets and insults surrounded Muslim families on their way to a fundraiser for the Islamic Center of North America in Yorba Linda. In August, just days after Mower posted the signs at Madera’s Islamic center, someone left a plastic pig covered with the phrases “No Mosque in NYC,” “Remember 9-11” and “Mo-Ham-ed” in the mailbox of a mosque near Sacramento.
This is not Madera County’s first brush with white nationalism. When law enforcement officials raided the home of probation violator Bobby Dean Hubbard of Coarsegold (a town in Madera), in May 2006, they found an SKS assault rifle, a shotgun, a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition, as well as items indicating Klan affiliation and photographs of burning crosses. Hubbard was in the Madera County jail when about 70 people gathered on his property for an event he had advertised as “Aryan Unity Fest ’06.”
Hubbard’s wife, Donna Jean, who co-hosted the Unity Fest and was also arrested on weapons charges, in 2007 pleaded no contest to battery and possessing an assault weapon, in order to avoid hate crime charges for her 2005 physical and verbal assault of a Jewish woman, who she kicked and pushed to the ground and allegedly told, “You should have burned in the oven with the rest of the Jews.”
If convicted, Mower faces a minimum of five years in prison for the two attacks. Authorities have not yet determined whether they will be prosecuted as hate crimes.