In the wake of the announcement of the ruling by the United States Supreme Court that overturned the 1973 abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade, activists, proponents, and supporters on each side of this issue assembled in demonstrations at dozens of cities nationally.
In most cases, participants at these events remained peaceful. Even where countering protests occurred, demonstrators largely limited activity to vocal exchanges on opposing positions.
In some cities, extreme and more aggressive elements exploited the opportunity presented to perpetrate violent and disruptive acts – notably vandalism and blocks or disruptions to traffic.
During a cross-sector teleconference held on Friday evening, June 24, federal authorities emphasized that they anticipate an extended period – measured in weeks – of escalated tensions, continuing protests and demonstrations, and the accompanying risk that more extreme or aggressive elements will exploit opportunities to perpetrate acts of violence.
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis highlighted four principal areas of concern:
- Federal and state government officials, notably judges, and facilities, especially courts, are assessed as most at risk.
- First Amendment protected events are potential targets of opportunity to perpetrate acts of violence for extreme elements on both sides of the abortion issue as well as those motivated by other causes, such as racial or ethnic bias.
- Healthcare facilities, pregnancy resource centers, and family advocacy groups – whether they provide abortion services or pro-life counseling and support.
- Faith-based organizations, in particular those linked to a clear or perceived public position on the abortion issue.
Based on open source reporting, the discussion below concisely summarizes significant activities that occurred in metropolitan areas nationally – linked to or motivated by reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision – during the period of Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26.
- This delineation is not intended to be a complete listing of incidents and activities that have occurred since the announcement of the ruling.
- Rather, the intent is to highlight events that implicated the types of concerns raised by officials with DHS and the FBI, as well as other authorities at federal, state, and local levels, during the cross-sector teleconference held late last week.
- Updates will follow as warranted by relevant developments and reporting of reliable
Significant reported activity on Sunday, June 26:
Phoenix, Arizona: Late in the day, aggressive elements within a larger protest pulled down a temporary fence around the Arizona State Capitol. Law enforcement officers arrested four suspects for alleged rioting and disorderly conduct; several other people were detained by police. All were subsequently released by a judge who found no probable cause for the arrests.
Los Angeles, California:
- Police officers prevented a large group of demonstrators from marching onto the US 101 Freeway and blocking vehicular traffic and causing serious safety risks.
- A fundraising initiative has reportedly been launched to support an abortion rights protester who suffered injury in an alleged Details to confirm the attack and its effects are limited.
Raleigh, North Carolina: Vandals targeted the North Carolina Republican Party headquarters, spray-painting the message, “If abortion isn’t safe neither R you.”
Shady Spring, West Virginia: Law enforcement and fire department authorities are investigating a fire that destroyed the St. Colman Catholic Church as possible arson. The church is a declared official historical site – attaining that designation in 1984.
Reston, Virginia: Vandals targeted St. John Neumann Catholic Church, setting a fire nearby as well. Police and firefighters responded to early morning calls reporting the incidents. A spray- painted message on the church read, “This Won’t Stop.”
Significant reported activity on Saturday, June 25:
- Demonstrations opposing and supporting the decision continued outside of the United States Supreme Court. Protests remained peaceful despite pro-life and pro-choice protesters Two individuals were arrested for throwing paint over the security fence at the Court.
- The Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police have “activated” the entire department over
the weekend in the event of violence or vandalism.
Paso Robles, California: The Tree of Life Pregnancy Support Center sustained damage in a vandalism incident – after activists claiming to be affiliated with Jane’s Revenge sent a letter to the center. Windows were broken and the letters “JR” and an encircled “A” – symbolizing anarchism – were spray-painted onto the facility.
Longmont, Colorado: The Life Choices pregnancy center sustained damage by vandalism early in the morning. A fire at the location is being investigated as an arson. A message on the building read, “If abortions aren’t safe neither are you” and featured an encircled anarchist ‘A’.
Winter Haven, Florida: Vandals targeted the LifeChoice Pregnancy Center, spray-painting Jane’s Revenge graffiti and anarchist symbols onto the facility.
Portland, Oregon: Aggressive elements within larger demonstrations engaged in a series of acts of damaging and destructive vandalism in downtown Portland. Multiple buildings had windows smashed and spray- paint applied. Vandals spray-painted a variety of slogans on buildings, such as “Her Body, Her Choice” and “Abort the Court.”
Greenville, South Carolina: Six individuals were arrested after police were forced to intervene to block participants in competing demonstrations from engaging in confrontations. Other persons were reportedly detained for attempting to interfere with the arrests.
Montpelier, Vermont: Early in the morning, vandals inflicted damage on the Vermont State House. At least seven windows were broken. A spray-painted message on the building read, “If abortions aren’t safe, you aren’t either.”
Significant reported activity on Friday, June 24:
Washington, DC: Thousands of pro-choice and pro-life demonstrators assembled outside the United States Supreme Court building. This activity remained largely peaceful. No significant acts of violence were reported. Limited confrontations occurred, mostly resolved without arrests or detentions.
Phoenix, Arizona: A protest at the Arizona State Capitol resulted in damage to the building and at least one arrest. Lawmakers inside the building could not depart safely. Police deployed tear gas to end the demonstration.
Glendale, California: Activists claiming to be affiliated with Jane’s Revenge issued a report
claiming responsibility for vandalizing a pregnancy center. Spray-painted phrases
included: “Jane was here”; “abort the court”; and “If abortions aren’t safe neither are you.” Activists issued a statement for “all the conservatives, Fox News anchors, judges, cops, Christian extremists, or federal agents reading this”:
This attack is nothing in compare to what is in store for you. Some spray paint will be the least of your worries. For decades you have bombed abortion clinics and murdered doctors. We fight not just for abortion rights, but for trans liberation, ecological harmony, decolonization, the destruction of white supremacy and capitalism, and the uprooting of the entire global civilization. We will hunt you down and make your lives a living hell. You started this war but we will win it. So far its just been pregnancy crisis centers, but tomorrow it might be your cars, your homes, or even your lives. We support a diversity of tactics and we will not step down in this fight.
Los Angeles, California:
- Demonstrators confronted police in the city’s downtown area, throwing rocks and setting off Riot police were forced to break up the demonstration. Reports indicated that police made approximately 50 arrests.
- Following these clashes, authorities arrested and charged a male suspect with attempted The suspect allegedly threw a makeshift flamethrower at a police officer.
- The far-right group Rise Above Movement issued a call to defend Catholic churches in Orange County and Los Angeles County, California.
San Francisco, California: Thousands of protesters blocked the intersection of Market and 8th Streets, causing traffic disruptions and delays. No arrests were reported for this activity.
Lakeland, Florida: Two pro-choice activists were arrested outside the Lakeland Women’s Health Center. Reporting indicates they erected a ladder at the health center to provide an elevated platform for heckling patients and staff.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa: A truck drove into two protesters in the city’s downtown area.
New York City, New York: Police arrested dozens of pro-choice demonstrators near Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan where they had blocked vehicular traffic.
Eugene, Oregon: Police arrested ten suspects for disorderly conduct. Activists wearing all-black attire had gathered at a pro-life pregnancy center before beginning a march to the Ferry Street Bridge – where they threw smoke bombs at police.
Providence, Rhode Island: A male Republican candidate for the State Senate allegedly struck his Democratic opponent in her face at a rally outside the State House. The Republican candidate, an off-duty police officer, subsequently turned himself in to law enforcement. He faces charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct.
Lynchburg, Virginia: Vandals damaged the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center, known to be a pro-life facility, applying spray-paint that read, “If Abortion Ain’t Safe You Ain’t Safe!” In addition, these assailants broke multiple windows.
Olympia, Washington: Anarchists held a rally at the Washington State Capitol. Participants then marched to multiple sites nearby – Olympia Federal Savings Bank, Harbor Church, and St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
Seattle, Washington: Surveillance cameras recorded pro-choice activists dressed in black were using pepper spray. The Seattle Police Department subsequently reported two arrests were made for two separate assaults.
Anarchist Rhetoric: The widely read anarchist site, It’s Going Down, published a lengthy critique of the Supreme Court’s decision that decried the conservative legal philosophy of originalism and the failure of “liberal pro-choice organizing.” This piece argued that rather than seeking to achieve change within the state, pro-choice activists weakened their position. It called for activists and anarchists to “take action” against the state and policing.
Updates will continue as relevant developments and reporting from reliable sources warrant.