Wisconsin pro-life group wants 'stronger leadership' from White House to hunt 'thugs' behind attack
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The leader of the Wisconsin pro-life group allegedly targeted in an arson attack on Mother’s Day says stronger leadership from the White House is needed as protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes risk the threat of violence since the leak of the draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
"We need stronger leadership that makes it very clear that we don't just disagree with it. We are calling for it to stop right now," Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling told Fox News Digital by phone Monday. "I understand the president used the word condemn. And, you know, is saying this is not what we think is appropriate, but there needs to be an overt call to stop it. And for him to say we're going to do what we need to do at the federal level to find these people and bring them to justice."
"I did not hear that in that statement," she added.
This comes as Madison, Wisconsin, police are investigating an arson attack that happened around 6 a.m. Sunday at the office for the pro-life non-profit organization. Appling explained that two windows were smashed and Molotov cocktails were tossed inside, one of which exploded, igniting a fire inside the office that burned furniture and books and sent shards of glass around the room.
No one was working at the time, so thankfully no one was inside or hurt in the incident, Appling said, "it was obvious that their intent was for it to be worse."
President Joe Biden arrives at the White House from a weekend trip to his Delaware home, Monday, May 9, 2022, in Washington. ((AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta))
On one outside wall, a message left in spray paint read: "if abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either." Appling said what was not seen in initial photos and videos from the scene was another wall tagged with the anarchy symbol and the number 1312, which is meant to stand for the phrase, "All Cops are B*******."
"I think it was another statement that not only do we hate you because you think it's inappropriate to kill babies before they're born, but we also hate cops," Appling told Fox News Digital. "These are thugs. They are attempting to bully us, to intimidate us. We will not be silent. Our message is truth. It is right. It is good. And you know, if we're silent, they win. We're not doing that."
Appling had reacted to a statement obtained by Fox News Digital on Monday from a White House official, saying "President Biden strongly condemns this attack and political violence of any stripe."
"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," the official added. "But that expression must be peaceful and free of violence, vandalism, or attempts to intimidate."
"We condemn violence and hatred in all forms, including the actions at Wisconsin Family Action in Madison," Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said in a tweet after the incident. "We reject violence against any person for disagreeing with another’s view. Violence is not the way forward. Hurting others is never the answer."
Regarding the governor's remarks, Appling said he appeared to just be "winking" at the attack. She also took issue with his stance on abortion.
"It was regrettable that this organization was attacked. But we're going to continue to do what we want to do and what we believe our base wants," she said, interpreting his comments.
Abortion-rights protesters wave flags during a demonstration outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Washington. ((AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe))
In light of Sunday’s incident, Wisconsin Family Action began internal discussions regarding safety measures staff can take to ensure they feel safe coming into work given what happened.
"If this it was if this happened to us in Madison, Wisconsin, we know that every other group that has spoken out positively about pro-lifers and our pro-life positions is vulnerable," Appling said.
Still, she says such "sheer intimidation" tactic will not deter her pro-life message.
"Organizations like ours having a usual opportunity to speak up at critical times, to remind people that every human life has inherent value and worth, and that we should be protecting that from the moment of conception through natural death," Appling told Fox News Digital. "That is part of the mission of our organization, and we will continue to speak that message to encourage people to make wise or lifesaving decisions and to not be silenced by those who are seeking by sheer intimidation and unfortunately, by these kinds of very dangerous actions to shut down our message. We dare not, we dare not be silenced because of that. We must continue to speak."
Local enforcement is expected to provide an update on the Madison attack Monday afternoon. Appling said FBI and ATF agents were among those at the scene Sunday, and investigators who gathered evidence from her office have not disclosed who they believe might be responsible for the incident.
Fox News' Adam Sabes contributed to this report.