MADSON, Wis. ( Associated Press) — Vandals stormed the office of an anti-abortion group, where a fire broke out and a Molotov cocktail was found, officials said Sunday.
Madison Police spokeswoman Stephanie Fryer told the Wisconsin State Journal that the fire at the Wisconsin Family Action Office in Madison shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday was of a suspicious nature. He said someone even spray-painted a message outside the building. Federal officials and the Madison Fire Department are helping with the investigation.
No one was injured, and officials were still working to determine how much damage was caused by the fire.
It was not immediately clear who ransacked the building, but the message “If abortion isn’t safe then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the building.
“It appears that a specific nonprofit supporting anti-abortion measures was targeted,” Madison Police Chief Sean Barnes said in a statement.
The lobbying group’s chair, Juline Epling, said she considered the fire a “direct threat against us”, noting that it happened just days after a draft of the US Supreme Court opinion was leaked, which suggested Was that the court might soon overturn Roe v. Wade’s decision that legalized abortion in this country. He said that if people were working in the office at that time they could get hurt.
“It’s a local expression of anger and a lack of tolerance of those of us who are pro-abortion people who are pro-life,” said Appling, who said investigators found the remains of at least one Molotov cocktail.
Appling said his group would not be intimidated by vandalism.
“We will repair our offices, stay on task, and put in an even stronger grassroots effort,” Appling said. “We will not back down. We will never stop doing what we are doing. A lot is at stake.”
Wisconsin politicians from both parties, including Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Republican US Sen. Ron Johnson, sharply criticized the vandalism on Sunday.
“We condemn violence and hate in all forms, including the actions at Wisconsin Family Action last night in Madison,” Evers said in a tweet. “We reject violence against any person for disagreeing with the view of another. Violence is not the way forward. Hurting others is never the answer.”
Johnson said the action should not be tolerated.
“This attack is despicable and should be condemned by all,” Johnson said.
Democratic US Senate candidate Tom Nelson also condemned the vandalism.
“I am committed to protecting women’s rights – but we must do it the right way,” Nelson said. “Violence and destruction are not the answer. I’m glad no one got hurt.”
Two Republican candidates for governor, former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Clayfish and Kevin Nicholson, both weighed in.
Nicholson said the vandalism was “disgusting behavior from the left”, although he did not provide details or further details.