ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS, June 18, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com)—A school bus covered in pro-life images that used to drive children to a local abortion clinic to pray was firebombed Friday night, report local advocates, who say the media have been negligent in covering the incident.
The bus, owned by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy, suffered extensive damage after vandals threw more than one device through the vehicle’s windows. Photos show some of the seats reduced to little more than metal frame and ash. The driver’s area was also bombed, and appears to be unusable.
The bus is well known in the area for the images on its windows, which include several Catholic images, as well as pictures of unborn children.
Local leader Kevin Rilott told LifeSiteNews.com via telephone Monday that the pro-life community was “pretty upset” about the destruction. Rilott used to regularly protest at the notoriously anti-Christian Northern Illinois Women’s Center (NIWC) abortion mill in Rockford, famous for the mocking and blasphemous messages in its windows, which closed permanently this year following an investigation by health officials.
“We thought we’d be past all this, but apparently not,” he said.
Rilott said that, although the owners of the vehicle have yet to assess whether the bus can be salvaged, it doesn’t seem possible. When he touched the dashboard area, “it was brittle, and my hands were covered in soot,” he said.
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In a video of the incident posted on the local pro-life blog, Rilott complained that the Rockford Register Star at first declined to do a story – but chose to run a piece this weekend highlighting an attack on the now-closed abortion mill that occurred 12 years ago. It also ran a story about another vehicle that was firebombed at about the same time as the bus.
Rilott said his group “tried all weekend” to get a story from the Star. “We did hear finally today they started to make some inquiries,” he said, although he expressed concern that it would be given little prominence. The Star has previously declined to report NIWC’s history of harassing pro-life witnesses.
The local pro-lifer said on the blog that he believed the firebombing could have been in retaliation for the closing of NIWC.
“It’s interesting that abortion supporters in Rockford not only kill children in the womb but may well have destroyed a school bus used by children as an act of revenge for the closing of their child killing center,” he wrote.
(Story continues after video.)
Although the bus no longer regularly takes children to NIWC following its closure, the owners have been using it for other Catholic events, and were planning to take a trip to the shuttered mill for a prayer of thanksgiving.
“I think in some ways this is a sign that things are going in the right way, when they do stupid acts of violence like this,” Rilott told LSN.
The owners of the bus, which originally cost about $5,000-$6,000 used, are taking donations to repair or replace the vehicle, he said.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy
3218 11TH STREET
ROCKFORD, IL 61109