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The fire happened early Sunday morning inside an office in Madison, Wisconsin which belonged to a pro-life group called Wisconsin Family Action. According to police and the fire department, the fire is being investigated as a case of arson.
Madison police are investigating arson after a fire broke out early Sunday in the offices of a prominent anti-abortion group and a threat was spray painted on the group’s building…
“If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” was scrawled in black paint across the outside wall of Wisconsin Family Action’s offices in Madison — a threat that was found by police while responding to a call early Sunday reporting flames inside the building on the capital city’s north side…
“A molotov cocktail, which did not ignite, was thrown inside the building. It also appears a separate fire was started in response,” investigators wrote Sunday in a report on the incident.
Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes in a statement said the department is investigating the fire as arson.
Here’s a photo of the graffiti painted on the outside of the building:
Madison arson investigators are looking into a suspicious fire at the offices of anti-abortion group Wisconsin Family Action, and this threat spray painted outside: “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” https://t.co/QIA4zKlgiy
— Molly Beck (@MollyBeck) May 8, 2022
The same person also painted the anarchy symbol and the number “1312” which is code for “ACAB,” the shortened version of the anarchist motto “all cops are bastards.” Democratic Gov. Tony Evers condemned the attack but vowed to fight to preserve Roe.
We will work against overturning Roe and attacks on reproductive rights by leading with empathy and compassion. We will defend what we believe in with our words and our voices—in the streets, in halls of government, and at the ballot box. In Wisconsin, we must lead by example.
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) May 8, 2022
Madison police issued a statement about the arson with some very odd wording:
The Madison Police Department understands members of our community are feeling deep emotions due to the recent news involving the United States Supreme Court…
Our department has and continues to support people being able to speak freely and openly about their beliefs.
But we feel that any acts of violence, including the destruction of property, do not aid in any cause.
It’s good that the police “feel” arson doesn’t help the cause, but whether it helps or not it’s still illegal. Also, the way they’ve phrased this seems to invite the idea that some people may feel differently than the police do about this. Indeed the perpetrator clearly felt differently but that shouldn’t matter. However he or she felt, the person responsible should wind up in prison, assuming the police can stop emoting long enough to catch him or her. The police statement did add that “federal partners” had been notified of the arson. Hopefully they’ll be a bit more focused.
The NY Times reports that Planned Parenthood has also condemned the attack:
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin also denounced the violence in a statement. “Our work to protect continued access to reproductive care is rooted in love,” the group’s president, Tanya Atkinson, said. “We condemn all forms of violence and hatred within our communities.”
That same statement wound up on Twitter but it’s hard to tell what violence and hatred they are talking about here. There’s no mention of the group that was targeted or the arson. If someone doesn’t already know what this is about, PP isn’t going to tell them.
We recognize this is an uncertain time for many of our patients. Planned Parenthood will continue to provide essential health care to those who come to us for care, in a safe and supportive environment – no matter what.
— Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin (@PPAWI) May 8, 2022
The president of Wisconsin Family Action, Julaine Appling, was in church when she heard about the attack:
”We’ve done nothing to warrant this,” Appling said. “Nothing to warrant a direct threat because of our position on life.”
Appling said she does not feel safe at the office anymore and she’s worried about her pro-life friends as abortion uncertainty continues in Wisconsin and the entire United States.
”That’s not the America I know. That’s not how we respond,” she said. “If we’re truly tolerant than we should be able to share our opinions without threats to people’s safety and security.”
She’s not sure if the organization will move locations or stay at the office campus on the north east side of Madison.
”I’ll tell you one thing. I don’t want to be bullied into a move,” Appling said. “But I have the security of my team. That’s my responsibility. I have to be concerned about that so we’re going to have to take a very very close look at next steps.”
Here’s a local news report on the fire. Madison police are set to provide an update on the incident tomorrow.