Group takes credit for arson at anti-abortion office, Madison police investigating claim

NOW: Group takes credit for arson at anti-abortion office, Madison police investigating claim

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Madison Police Department is looking into an organization who claimed responsibility for setting a fire and throwing Molotov cocktails at the offices of an anti-abortion group in Madison.

The group is calling themselves "Jane's Revenge" and shared an anonymous statement with a Bellingcat investigative journalist, Robert Evans, who first revealed the details in a series of tweets.

"This was only a warning," the group said in the statement. "We demand the disbanding of all anti-choice establishments, fake clinics and violent anti-choice groups within the next 30 days."

The offices of Wisconsin Family Action, an organization who has lobbied for years to outlaw abortions in Wisconsin, was vandalized and set on fire early Sunday morning. No one was hurt and the flames were put out quickly by the Madison Fire Department.

A spokeswoman for the Madison Police Department said in a statement they are aware of "a group" taking credit for the arson at Wisconsin Family Action.

"[We're] working with our federal partners to determine the veracity of that claim," said Stephanie Fryer, spokeswoman at the Madison Police Department. "We take all information and tips related to this case seriously and are working to vet each and every one."

Jane's Revenge also suggested this attack might not be the last.

"And we will not stop, we will not back down, nor will we hesitate to strike until the inalienable right to manage our own health is returned to us," the group wrote. "We are not one group, but many. We are in your city. We are in every city."

The organization's name is a reference to the Jane Collective, a Chicago-based group that performed abortions in the late 1960s and early 1970s before Roe v. Wade.

No arrests have been made and no suspects are in custody, Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said Monday during a press conference.

On Monday, Barnes and an FBI agent assisting in the investigation added they are not aware of any additional threats in the city.

Barnes also asked for the public's help if they have any surveillance video to help determine who's behind throwing two Molotov cocktails at the Wisconsin Family Action office and spray painting graffiti on the building depicting an anarchy symbol and a message that read, "If abortions aren't safe, then you aren't either."

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 608-255-2345 or contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014. All tips will remain anonymous.

Security Concerns

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are outraged over the incident despite their conflicting views on abortion. It's led to some Republicans asking for more security for pro-choice groups.

Former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican in the governor's race, said the attack was a "terrible act of domestic terrorism." She called on Gov. Tony Evers administration to do more to protect pro-life advocacy organizations.

"I think Gov. Tony Evers needs to come out and not only make sure pro-life organizations across this state feel their free speech rights and their ability to operate are protected, but also that nobody is intimidated," Kleefisch said.

Police have increased patrols around Wisconsin Family Action. CBS 58 witnessed law enforcement in the parking lot on Tuesday.

Gov. Evers condemned the attack over the weekend and again on Monday during a press event, saying whoever is responsible "should be arrested and put on trial."

Attorney General Josh Kaul responded to the group taking credit for the attack in a Twitter post.

"Acts of political violence and threats of political violence are abhorrent and criminal," Kaul tweeted. "We are committed to ensuring that anyone responsible for such violence and threats is brought to justice."

The abortion debate reignited after a leaked draft majority opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court suggested Roe v. Wade will be overturned. If that happens, an 1849 Wisconsin law would go into effect that bans nearly all abortions unless a mother's life is at risk. The state law is expected to be challenged in court if Roe is overturned.

Kleefisch will face off against Kevin Nicholson, State Rep. Tim Ramthun and Tim Michels in the GOP primary for governor. All candidates have said if the abortion ban goes into effect, they oppose making changes to the law to include exceptions for rape or incest.

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