Former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker slammed the Madison Police Department’s police chief on Monday, suggesting the official appeared to express empathy for supporters of abortion rights while announcing the burning of a pro-life center.
“Do you think the Police Chief would have said this if someone did this to a Planned Parenthood building?!? They’d be out of control,” Walker asked in a tweet. “What a double standard. Violence is violence and it should condemned, period.”
Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes was addressing news that a pro-life nonprofit “was targeted” by a “suspicious fire” — a Molotov cocktail was reportedly thrown into the pro-life organization’s building, one wall was burnt, and the message “if abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the side of the building.
Barnes began his statement by saying: “The Madison Police Department understands members of our community are feeling deep emotions due to the recent news involving the United States Supreme Court.”
The police chief then warned against violence, saying: “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,” he continued. “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.”
Madison Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Fryer told The Daily Wire that “there are deep emotions on both/all sides regarding the recent news involving the United States Supreme Court.”
“The Madison Police Department supports the 1st Amendment and the freedoms it protects – no matter what side of an issue a person may fall,” she said.
Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers condemned “violence and hatred in all forms, including the actions at Wisconsin Family Action in Madison” in a Twitter thread that strongly emphasized his support for abortion.
“We reject violence against any person for disagreeing with another’s view,” he said. “Violence is not the way forward. Hurting others is never the answer.”
“We will work against overturning Roe and attacks on reproductive rights by leading with empathy and compassion,” he added. “We will defend what we believe in with our words and our voices—in the streets, in halls of government, and at the ballot box. In Wisconsin, we must lead by example.”
The Madison Fire Department said in a news release that it believes the pro-life center was “intentionally set” on fire and that “the incident is being investigated as an arson.”
It is not immediately clear who set the building on fire — Wisconsin Family Action claims the attack was from an “elitist anarchist group” that threw “two Molotov cocktails into the office, after breaking windows, and then proceeded to light a fire.”
“The arsonists posted graffiti on the outside of the building near the group’s offices. The message was, ‘If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either.’ Anarchy 1312 took responsibility for the attack, leaving its logo on an outside wall,” the organization said.
Wisconsin Family Action did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire. The organization’s president, Julaine Appling, said in a statement that the attack has far broader implications than merely reactions to the leaked draft opinion.
“Apparently,” she said, “the tolerance that the left demands is truly a one-way street. Violence has become their answer to everything. This is what happens when leadership is missing or when leadership implies that violence is ok. In 2020, Governor Tony Evers basically looked the other way when violence erupted in Kenosha and Madison. That kind of non-response fosters what happened to us this morning, leaving Wisconsin citizens who disagree with his policies extremely vulnerable to similar violence.”
Appling hit the governor for his response to the incident, saying that he said “nothing about demanding a full investigation and criminal prosecution.”
“He just told his supporters he’d keep supporting abortion,” she added.
“But this attack fails to frighten us, and instead steels the resolve of law-abiding, common-sense, every-day folks to stand up and push back,” Appling continued. “We know today it is Wisconsin Family Action getting Molotov cocktails tossed through broken windows and fires ignited, but tomorrow it could be anyone in our state or another state who is attacked because we disagree with a policy or action, give voice to the voiceless, or stand up for what’s right.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that President Joe Biden’s view “is that there is a lot of passion” asked Thursday if Biden condones the publishing of the Supreme Court justices’ locations.
On Monday, after days of silence, the White House condemned acts of “violence, threats, or vandalism” directed pro-life centers.
“President Biden strongly condemns this attack and political violence of any stripe,” the statement said. “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.”
Psaki also tweeted that Biden “strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest,” but emphasized that “should never include violence, threats, or vandalism.”
Over the weekend, pro-abortion rights activists showed up at the homes of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh.
“Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety,” Psaki said.