Participants in Wednesday’s call raised concerns that protesters could clash with counter-protesters or face attacks from lone extremists. They did not focus on the ideological views of those involved in violent attacks or protests protected by the First Amendment.
But they have focused on the federal court system — including the Supreme Court’s nine justices and hundreds of federal judges across the country — as a growing potential target of violence.
The concerns come as federal judges have faced increasing threats in recent years and the Justice Department’s top watchdog has warned that the US Marshals Service lacks the resources to keep these judges safe. .
Those responsible for the call did not discuss specific threats, according to the two participants who were granted anonymity to speak candidly in a private discussion. Instead, they had a high-level discussion focused on trends and patterns — including the possibility that antagonistic foreign governments could capitalize on domestic tension to try to fuel discord. Their goal was to maximize information sharing on the subject among law enforcement agencies nationwide, in hopes of identifying threat trends in real time.
Mike Sena, the head of the fusion center association, declined to comment on the call. An FBI spokesperson declined to comment, and DHS did not respond to a request for comment.
This appeal is not the only case where law enforcement officials are preparing for threats related to abortion rights. Yahoo! News detailed several law enforcement documents that showed concerns about the violence before POLITICO broke the majority opinion draft. In a document the site reported on, the FBI detailed how abortion-related extremism can lead to violence.
“Since 1993, there have been 11 murders by pro-life extremists,” the guide said. “Pro-choice extremists primarily used threats, harassment, and vandalism, but did not result in lethal violence.”
And on May 4, SITE Intelligence Group – a private organization that shares threat intelligence with a host of law enforcement agencies – released a report detailing calls for violence targeting people protesting against the expected decision.
“Users of the far-right pro-Trump forum ‘The Donald’ encouraged members to violently oppose pro-abortion protesters demonstrating against the Supreme Court’s leaked draft signaling a reversal of Roe v. Wade,” we read in the bulletin. “Reacting to headline ‘Violence erupts at pro-abortion protest after Democratic politicians called for ‘fight back’, users made threats and called on police to harm protesters.”
Another bulletin, published on May 5, detailed the neo-Nazis’ response to the news.
“A neo-Nazi channel responding to the leaked Supreme Court draft reporting a Roe v. Wade reversal posted a previously aired pro-life graphic calling for ‘bombing’ reproductive health care clinics and ‘killing’ individuals pro-choice,” the newsletter mentioned.
Rita Katz, head of the SITE Intelligence Group, told POLITICO that misogyny is prevalent on the violent far right.
“For far-right extremists, the focus of Roe v. Wade isn’t simply on religion or conventional ‘when life begins’ debates,” she said. “It’s about the toxic resentment of feminism that unites the entire spectrum of these movements, from neo-Nazis to QAnon.”