Investigators reviewing attack on anti-abortion office

Midwest

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Investigators promised an update Monday into a weekend fire and vandalism at the office of a prominent Wisconsin anti-abortion lobbying group.

Madison police said a fire was set inside Wisconsin Family Action’s office after two Molotov cocktails thrown into the building failed to ignite. The message “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the exterior.

Flames were seen coming from the office shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday, and the fire was being investigated as arson.

No one was hurt.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who is up for reelection in November, decried the attack Monday when asked about it at a groundbreaking event in a Madison suburb. Evers said he had no update on the investigation, but that an update from Madison police and fire officials, as well as the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

“It was a horrible, horrible incident,” Evers said, adding that whoever is responsible “should be arrested and put on trial. This is unacceptable.”

“Violence does not solve the issues we’re facing as a country,” Evers said.

The vandalism came days after the leak of a draft opinion suggested the U.S. Supreme Court was on course to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The leak spurred immediate demonstrations, including weekend protests by abortion rights supporters outside the homes of conservative justices, with more planned this week.

Threatening graffiti is seen on the exterior of Wisconsin Family Action offices in Madison, Wis., on Sunday, May 8, 2022. The Madison headquarters of the anti-abortion group was vandalized late Saturday or early Sunday, according to an official with the group. (Alex Shur/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

The president of the lobbying group, Julaine Appling, said she believed the vandalism was a direct response to the leak of the court’s draft opinion. She said “this attack fails to frighten us, and instead steels the resolve of law-abiding, common-sense, every-day folks to stand up and push back.”

Wisconsin Family Action has been a prominent force in the state for years, advocating for laws to limit access to abortions, fighting to overturn Roe v. Wade and working on numerous other hot-button social issues.

Politicians from both parties swiftly condemned the vandalism.

The leaked draft opinion has caused anger nationwide. Two Catholic churches, including one known for its annual anti-abortion display, have been vandalized in less than a week in Colorado. Gov. Jared Polis signed a law in April to protect abortion rights in that state.

Clinics that perform abortions have sometimes been targeted by vandals, too, including as recently as January, when a Planned Parenthood clinic in Tennessee was hit by arson.

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