Wisconsin anti-abortion office fire investigated as arson

Police say arson investigators are investigating a fire inside the Wisconsin Family Action anti-abortion group’s headquarters, where someone painted a message outside.

Madison Police spokeswoman Stephanie Fryer told the Wisconsin State Journal that the fire reported shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday morning in Madison was suspicious in nature. Federal authorities and the Madison Fire Department are helping with the investigation.

No one was injured, and authorities are still working to determine how much damage the fire caused.

It wasn’t immediately clear who vandalized the building, but the message “If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you” was spray-painted on the building.

“It appears that a specific non-profit organization that supports anti-abortion measures was targeted,” Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said in a statement.

Lobbying group president Julaine Appling said she considers the fire a “direct threat against us” as it happened just days after a draft U.S. Supreme Court ruling was leaked, suggesting the court could in soon to overturn the case Roe v. Wade’s decision that legalized abortion in this country. She said people could have been injured if they were working in the office at the time.

“This is the local manifestation of the anger and lack of tolerance of pro-abortion people towards those of us who are pro-life,” said Appling, who said investigators found the remains of at least one Molotov cocktail.

Appling said his group will not be intimidated by the vandalism.

“We’re going to repair our offices, stay on the job and build an even stronger grassroots effort,” said Appling. “We will not back down. We’re not going to stop doing what we’re doing. Much more is at stake.”

Wisconsin politicians from both parties, including Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Republican Senator Ron Johnson, were quick to criticize the vandalism on Sunday.

“We condemn violence and hatred in all forms, including the actions at Wisconsin Family Action in Madison last night,” Evers said in a tweet. “We reject violence against anyone for disagreeing with the opinion of another. Violence is not the way forward. Hurting others is never the answer.”

Johnson said the actions should not be tolerated.

“This attack is abhorrent and must be condemned by all,” Johnson said.

Democratic US Senate candidate Tom Nelson also denounced the vandalism.

“I am committed to protecting women’s rights – but we must do it the right way,” said Nelson. “Violence and destruction are not the answer. I’m glad no one was hurt.”

Two Republican gubernatorial candidates, former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Kevin Nicholson, spoke out.

“The radicals are trying to stop us, but they know we won’t be intimidated into defending life,” Kleefisch said.

Nicholson said the vandalism was “disgusting behavior on the left”.

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