A fire set at the office of a pro-life group in Wisconsin over the weekend is being investigated as targeted arson, according to authorities in the capital city of Madison.
Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling said police notified her at about 7:45 a.m. while she was at church in Watertown, Wisconsin, which is about 48 miles west of Milwaukee. Police received reports of flames in Appling’s office around 6 a.m.
“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.
A statement from Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes called the incident an “arson” while expressing the department’s support for free speech and condemnation of violence. According to a police report posted online, a molotov cocktail was thrown inside the building, but did not ignite. No one was injured, but the report suggested the incident may have been a “targeted” attack on a non-profit that supports anti-abortion measures.
Wisconsin Family Action has advocated for years for federal lawmakers to outlaw abortions. The incident took place not long after a leaked draft of U.S. Supreme Court decision suggested the court is considering a decision that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade.
According to Guttmacher Institute, 22 states, including Wisconsin, have bans or could ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned with “trigger laws.”
“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.
“To be honest with you, I knew immediately what had happened,” Appling said, referring to her initial conversation with police officers.
“You know, you can disagree with me. And I don’t mind being disagreed with. 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,” Appling said.
“If somebody had been in that office, I don’t think anybody would have been killed, but you would have been hurt just from the flying glass.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in a statement condemned the violence against the group. “We reject violence against any person for disagreeing with another’s view. Violence is not the way forward. Hurting others is never the answer,” Evers said in a statement. “We will work against overturning Roe and attacks on reproductive rights by leading with empathy and compassion.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: JS ONLINE