The headquarters of an anti-abortion group in Madison, Wisconsin, was burned down Sunday morning in an act of vandalism that included the attempted use of a Molotov cocktail and graffiti that read “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t.” too,” according to police.
No one in the Wisconsin Family Action group was in the building at the time, and there were no injuries. Although the Molotov cocktail that was thrown out of a window did not ignite, the vandal or vandals started another fire nearby, officials said. The fire burned part of a wall.
The Madison Police Department did not say whether it made arrests or if more than one person was involved.
“We have made our federal partners aware of this incident and are working with them and the Madison Fire Department as we investigate this arson,” the department said in a statement.
The attack came nearly a week after a draft Supreme Court ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the historic decision that established the constitutional right to abortion. Wisconsin has a law banning abortions that predates Roe by more than a century, but Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, said he would block its implementation. Wisconsin Family Action is a non-profit political advocacy group that promotes conservative policies on various issues, including abortion, within the Wisconsin state government.
From Opinion: A Challenge to Roe v. wade
Commentary by Times Opinion writers and columnists on upcoming Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“There is nothing we have done to justify this. We must be able to take different positions on issues without fearing for our lives,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action. “If anyone had been in the office, they would have, at the very least, been hurt.”
The Madison Fire Department received a call about the fire at around 6 am Sunday. Firefighters and police arrived soon after and quickly brought the fire under control. Mrs. Appling said she heard about the attack late in the morning as she prepared for a Mother’s Day brunch at her church in Watertown, Wisconsin.
“I got a call from the building management saying there was a break-in and a fire,” Appling said. She then went with a member of staff to the building, where they discovered “the damage and property damage”.
Mrs. Appling said her office was the main target of the attack. Two windows were broken and the water used to put out the fire caused further damage. Mrs. Appling said the graffiti was particularly disturbing. “When I drove into the office and saw this, my immediate reaction was one of surprise at how open the threat was,” she said. The graffiti included an anarchist symbol and the numbers 1312, an abbreviation of an anti-police slur.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin also denounced the violence in a statement. “Our work to protect ongoing access to reproductive care is rooted in love,” said group president Tanya Atkinson. “We condemn all forms of violence and hatred in our communities.”
In a statement to The New York Times, Tony Perkins, chairman of the Family Research Council, which works with Wisconsin Family Action, blamed the attack on left-wing extremists aimed at intimidating abortion opponents, and he promised they would not succeed. . “We are grateful for the unwavering leadership of Wisconsin Family Action and the dozens of family policy boards across the country that are committed to the sanctity of all human life,” he added.
Mrs. Appling said that she and other members of the organization had received threats in the past and that she knew some people would be angry after the Supreme Court’s draft ruling was leaked.
“I automatically knew that anyone who took a stand in favor of how the opinion was written should probably be paying more attention to their safety,” she said. Still, this kind of direct attack was shocking, and she said it shook her sense of security.
She also said she would be working on implementing new security measures at the office.
In a statement Sunday, Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes acknowledged rising tensions in the community following the project’s leak and condemned the attack.
“Our department has and continues to support people who can speak freely and openly about their beliefs,” the statement read, “but we feel that any acts of violence, including the destruction of property, do not help any cause.”