WISC-TV in Madison:
Madison police and the Fire Department are investigating a fire at an office building on the city’s north side that they said was arson.
Crews were called to the 2800 block of International Lane Sunday just after 6 a.m. and flames could be seen coming from the facility.
Officers and arson investigators have not determined the cause of the fire, but police confirmed a Molotov cocktail, which did not ignite, was thrown at the office during the incident. A separate fire was also started.
Police confirmed that the office of Wisconsin Family Action was damaged in the incident. The group is a PAC that lobbies against abortion rights and gay marriage.
Speaking to News 3 Now, WFA President Julaine Appling said that someone had thrown Molotov cocktails into her office and had burned books. Appling said she did not know the person who would have lit the fire, but said the suspect “left their signature” with graffiti.
“We get veiled and not so veiled threats from time to time,” Appling said. “We’ve never had anything that materialized like this.”
Appling said that she respects people’s right to disagree with her and her organization, but that this incident is taking things too far.
“We can all disagree,” she said. “People disagree with me all the time. I don’t go threaten them.”
Appling said most WFA staff members would be working remotely Monday, though she will need to return to help deal with the insurance company.
The WFA will consider making security-related adjustments going forward, Appling said, but she did not know what those adjustments would be. Right now, the building has now security cameras. She said she was not told to stay away from the office, but felt uncomfortable putting staff members in a tough situation.
“I’m not going to ask my team to be here,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a terribly secure environment right now.”
Madison Fire Department officials said in a statement that investigators believe the fire was intentionally set and that the incident was being investigated as arson.
On Sunday, the Madison Police Department issued a statement regarding their investigation.
The Madison Police Department understands members of our community are feeling deep emotions due to the recent news involving the United States Supreme Court.
Early Sunday morning, our team began investigating a suspicious fire inside an office building on the city’s north side.
It appears a specific non-profit that supports anti-abortion measures was targeted.
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.
We have made our federal partners aware of this incident and are working with them and the Madison Fire Department as we investigate this arson.
We will provide an update on this case Monday at 2 p.m. Specific details regarding the logistics of this update will be sent at a later time.
As we’ve been covering at Townhall, pro-abortion activists have taken to threatening and even committing violence, as well as protesting at the homes of Supreme Court justices. Catholic Churches and pro-life organizations have also been targeted in the process, though the Biden administration has failed to sufficiently call it out. Such incidents have been planned and carried out after a draft opinion indicating the U.S. Supreme Court is looking to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked last week.
At some point on late Saturday or early Sunday, the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, a pro-life organization in Madison, was vandalized, leading “Molotov” to trend on Twitter over Sunday.
Alexander Shur, of Wisconsin State Journal, wrote about the incident, as well as tweeted some footage of the damage. As he explained in his report:
Investigators are calling the fire at the building, on Madison’s North Side near the Dane County Regional Airport, an arson.
Julaine Appling, president of the lobbying and advocacy organization, said she and events coordinator Diane Westphall were getting ready for a Mother’s Day brunch in Watertown when a building staff member informed her of the break-in. A person on the way to the airport before dawn saw smoke rising from the building and called police, Appling said.
Police said flames were seen coming from the building shortly after 6 a.m. Nobody was hurt.
Arriving at the office at 2801 International Lane at the same time as a reporter, two staff persons from the group found shattered glass from a broken window covering a corner office riddled with burned books. The smell of smoke persisted for hours after the fire, which damaged the corner office carpet and the wall beneath the window.
The outside of the building was also sprayed with graffiti depicting an anarchy symbol, a coded anti-police slogan and the phrase, “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.”
“What you’re going to see here is a direct threat against us,” Appling said. The incident comes just days after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion revealed a majority of the high court had agreed to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion across the country. “Imagine if somebody had been in the office when this happened. They would have been hurt.”
Appling said police found remnants of at least one Molotov cocktail.
Police said a Molotov cocktail was thrown inside the building but did not ignite. It appears a separate fire was started after that, police said.
Madison Police Department Chief Shon Barnes said in a statement that the department is working on the arson investigation with federal officials and the Madison Fire Department.
Andy Ngô replied to Shur’s thread, pointing out that some of the graffiti is consistent with Antifa symbols.
He also posted from his own Twitter account that we can expect more attacks from Antifa when it comes to targeting pro-life groups and pregnancy resource centers. This is consistent with threats that pro-abortion groups have been making.
Many were quick to reply in the comments with delight about the act of violence, which is consistent with other tweets encouraging or celebrating violence. This is from random Twitter users and verified accounts alike.
Others claimed the pro-life group faked the attack, in part due to the handwriting.
To his credit, Wisconsin’s Gov. Tony Evers, a pro-abortion Democratic, quickly released a statement, condemning the violence.
Other state officials and candidates are cited in Shur’s report, with Republicans and Democrats alike condemning the violence. Democrats still stressed their support for Roe, though, and the city’s mayor couldn’t help herself from engaging in whataboutism.
From Shur’s report:
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said she understands that people are afraid and angry in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court draft but said violence isn’t an acceptable response.
“Madison believes strongly in the right to free speech, but it must be exercised nonviolently by all sides in this increasingly contentious debate,” she said.
Rhodes-Conway also said pro-abortion rights groups have also been targeted, and she called for Congress to pass a bill codifying the protections guaranteed under Roe v. Wade.
President Joe Biden has yet to address such vandalism, despite repeated calls for him to do so, and this most recent example was no different.
More violence and acts of vandalism is likely to follow. Lila Rose, president and founder of the pro-life group Live Action, tweeted out a call for people to report examples of pro-abortion violence, which her team will track.