As a result of the, US Supreme Court Police reported a “significant increase in violent threats,” including a series of social media posts directed at certain sitting justices, as well as the Supreme Court building. The Department of Homeland Security said it has recorded an increase in threats against “reproductive health care personnel and facilities.”
The threats were outlined in an intelligence bulletin that DHS issued to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. The memo, titled “Potential Threats to Public Safety in Response to the Abortion Debate” and dated May 13, was released by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
DHS said federal law enforcement agencies have opened investigations into several of the online threats.
The National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium, the Washington, DC regional intelligence hub tasked with tracking domestic terrorism threats, has referred at least 25 violent online posts to partner agencies for further investigation. According to the bulletin, some of the threats on social media spoke of “burning down or storming the US Supreme Court and murdering the justices and their clerks, members of Congress, and legal protesters.”
The bulletin warned of an “emerging threat to government, religious and reproductive health personnel and facilities, and ideological opponents” and marks the first intelligence bulletin explicitly issued to state and local law enforcement regarding extremism related to the abortion following the leak of the draft opinion. .
“The volume of violent threats against Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, other public officials, clergy, health care officials and providers, and others associated with the abortion debate is likely to persist and increase sooner.” and after the issuance of the judgment of the Court”. official decision,” the bulletin added.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its final ruling on thenext month.
Since July 2021, there have been at least four incidents of violence between “ideological opponents” at abortion-related protests in Oregon and California, with protesters deploying “smoke grenades, paintball guns, batons, chemical irritants and bats, according to reports.” press”. the memo says.
Historically, a Justice Department task force has recorded at least 10 murders by pro-abortion violent extremists, as well as dozens of bombings and arson attacks, all targeting abortion providers and facilities. However, the Supreme Court leak could lead to threats from supporters both for and against abortion.
The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis said in its bulletin that “complaints related to restricted access to abortion could fuel violence by pro-choice abortion-related violent extremists and others.” [domestic violent extremists.]”
Arson investigators are investigating a fire that broke out inside the headquarters of the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Family Action on May 8. Graffiti found at the scene read: “If abortions are not safe [then] neither are you” and included symbols “typically used by anarchist violent extremists and others to convey anti-law enforcement sentiment,” according to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
Law enforcement officials are still working with fire department officials to determine the exact cause.
In the wake of the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion, federal law enforcement agencies have identified threats related to racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism, the deadliest form of domestic violent extremism, according to.
DHS analysts cited social media posts promoting online violence against protesters protesting outside judges’ homes. According to the bulletin, one publication noted that “activists killed in front of a [Supreme Court] the house of justice will start the boog.” The abbreviation refers to “Boogaloo,” a common term among extremists motivated by white supremacist conspiracy theories.
Intelligence officials also assessed that certain anti-abortion narratives have been linked to known conspiracy theories such as “saving white children” and “fighting white genocide.”
In its memo, the department also warned of copycat attacks that threaten abortion-related violence, citing a social media manager on a racially/ethnically motivated extremist channel who encouraged users to engage in “unrelenting violence” as alternative to “counter-protest”, referring to previous violent actors against abortion. According to the newsletter, the user wrote: “If you’re pro-life but not prepared to follow in their footsteps, you’re wasting your time.”
The bulletin outlined signs and indicators of abortion-related violence, intended to help local law enforcement thwart future attacks. Examples include “issuing violent threats, encouraging others to commit violent acts, or doxing individuals to incite or enable violence against others for abortion-related motivations,” as well as “pre-operative surveillance, unusual or suspicious interest in a facility, or attempts to gain unauthorized entry into government facilities, reproductive health facilities, or the personal residences of Supreme Court justices.”
The nationwide dispatch comes several weeks after state and local law enforcement agencies released situational awareness and intelligence reports warning of a ““Atmosphere of threat as a result of the leak of the draft opinion of the Supreme Court.
Fusion Centers across the country put together a call, along with the FBI and DHS, warning of the current threat environment.
“A lot of what we’ve been seeing has been implied threats without specific locations,” Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, told CBS News.
“That makes it difficult when you’re trying to figure out what crosses that line in online groups,” Sena said. “And people can have extreme ideologies, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s the discussion of violence, death and destruction that concerns us.”
In a statement to CBS News, a DHS spokesperson said the department is “committed to protecting Americans’ free speech and other civil liberties, including the right to peacefully protest.” The department also committed to sharing intelligence with other law enforcement agencies and “the private sector.”