Wisconsin police are investigating whether the fire at anti-abortion group Wisconsin Family Action's headquarters on Sunday was the result of arson.
Authorities found remnants of at least one Molotov cocktail that didn't ignite. Over the weekend, group members said a Molotov cocktail may have started a fire in the building that had been vandalized.
HEADQUARTERS OF WISCONSIN ANTI-ABORTION GROUP VANDALIZED
“It appears a specific non-profit that supports anti-abortion measures was targeted,” Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said in a statement. "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."
Authorities extinguished a fire at the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, which opposes abortion and promotes abstinence, early on Sunday. The words "If abortions aren't safe then you aren't either" were painted on the side of the building. A window in the building had also been broken.
The attack drew national attention as the country grapples with the political fallout from a leaked Supreme Court draft decision. Although it isn't final, the draft signals the high court plans to overturn the precedents set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which guarantee women a constitutional right to an abortion. On Monday, President Joe Biden "strongly" condemned the attack on the group.
"President Biden strongly condemns this attack and political violence of any stripe," Biden said in a statement, according to Fox News. "The President has made clear throughout his time in public life that Americans have the fundamental right to express themselves under the Constitution, whatever their point of view. But that expression must be peaceful and free of violence, vandalism, or attempts to intimidate."
.@POTUS strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest. But that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) May 9, 2022
So far, there have been no reports of injuries from the attack, and federal investigators have been briefed on the incident, according to police. Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers also condemned the attack.
We condemn violence and hatred in all forms, including the actions at Wisconsin Family Action in Madison last night. We reject violence against any person for disagreeing with another’s view.— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) May 8, 2022
Violence is not the way forward. Hurting others is never the answer.
Both Biden and Evers have roundly criticized news of the leaked Supreme Court decision, contending that the court should leave a woman's right to an abortion enshrined in national court precedent.
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Police referred the Washington Examiner to the incident report. The Washington Examiner also reached out to Wisconsin Family Action for comment.
Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, said the group has faced threats before and emphasized that if someone was in the office when the attack occurred, they could have been injured.
"You know, you can disagree with me. And I don't mind being disagreed with," Appling told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "But to threaten the safety of my team because we have a different opinion on an issue — an important issue, I'll grant you that. That doesn't give you credence to threaten my life, and then turn around and damage property."