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ASPartOfMe
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08 Jul 2022, 3:24 pm

Armed Demonstrators and Far-Right Groups Are Escalating Tensions at Abortion Protests

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Armed demonstrators and extremist groups have increasingly gathered at abortion-related protests in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, causing analysts to warn of a rising threat of violence.

Eight abortion-related demonstrations featured armed individuals in the week after the June 24 ruling, bringing the total number of such protests in 2022 to 10—nearly twice as many as in all of 2021, according to a new analysis shared with TIME by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit that tracks political violence and demonstrations.

Anti-government militias and extremist groups like the Proud Boys have appeared at 27 abortion-related events as of July 1, according to ACLED’s data, a 160% spike over the previous year. In 2020, far-right groups appeared at only 1% of demonstrations related to abortion rights; so far this year, almost one in five events involved members of a far-right group.

As armed demonstrators and far-right groups flock to abortion-related protests, abortion-rights activists have begun bringing guns themselves, according to ACLED, including at a rally in Dallas on July 2. The combination of the presence of firearms and competing demonstrators has alarmed analysts. Roughly half of the abortion-related demonstrations that have turned violent or destructive have involved counter-protestors. “It’s all the makings of a really worrying trend,” says Roudabeh Kishi, the director of research and innovation at ACLED.

Abortion-related demonstrations that involve people with firearms are more likely to turn violent. So far this year, 33% of them have, according to ACLED’s data, compared to 0.2% of those that don’t involve guns. None of that violence has included shootings. But tensions are rising, giving domestic extremists an opportunity to exploit these protests to incite violence among their supporters, national security officials say.

Outside the Idaho state capitol on June 28, fighting broke out between an anti-abortion prayer rally of 200 people—which included a number of Proud Boys armed with assault rifles—and protestors demonstrating against the Supreme Court decision. A few days earlier, on the evening of the ruling, a self-identified member of the Three Percenters militia armed with an AR-15 started recording a group of protestors outside a crisis pregnancy center in Eugene, Ore. The protest was dispersed after police fired tear gas, leading to the arrest of 10 people.

The Department of Homeland Security has highlighted the potential for violence by domestic extremists in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Viral posts on online forums warned that the far-left abortion-rights group “Jane’s Revenge,” which DHS calls “a network of loosely affiliated suspected violent extremists” linked to arsons at crisis pregnancy centers, had shared a blog post encouraging a “Night of Rage” after the abortion ruling was issued. In response, far-right extremists called for “attacks against abortion-related targets,” according to a DHS intelligence memo disseminated to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, first responders and their private sector partners.

While widespread violence failed to materialize, the dueling militant rallying cries highlighted the increasingly chaotic environment, in which both real and perceived threats are blending with disinformation, leading to a feedback loop that can be as dangerous as the threats themselves, security officials and analysts say.

“People are taking threats from more obscure, fringe groups and spreading them widely online: ‘Oh, look, here’s what they want to do to us,’” says Sivanne Shalev, the head of emerging trends and misinformation at ActiveFence, a technology security company that analyzes disinformation and hate speech. “Amplifying threats and misinformation [causes] a lot of confusion which in itself can be dangerous and can promote real world harm.”

“For abortion providers, watching January 6 was really very familiar,” says Fowler. “People with militia gear, with weapons, the rhetoric like calling for people to be hung and to be harmed…those are all things that that these extremists do outside of clinics and have been using to torment providers for years.”

Violence against abortion providers rose significantly in 2021, according to a report last month from NAF, which has been tracking this data for 45 years. Assaults of abortion-clinic employees and patients increased 128% year-over-year, while stalking leaped 600% and bomb threats jumped 80%.

When Texas passed a law last year significantly restricting access to abortion, there was an escalation of violent and aggressive activity there and in surrounding states where women sought care, Fowler says, such as harassment, intimidation, forcibly entering abortion clinics, and death threats.

“If you’re ‘pro-life’ but aren’t prepared to follow in their footsteps…you’re wasting your time,” according to the internal DHS memo, first reported by Axios.

The memo warns that federal judges, state lawmakers, abortion clinics and abortion rights protests, as well as faith-based anti-abortion centers, could all be targeted. “Some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists’ embrace of pro-life narratives may be linked to the perception of wanting to ‘save white children’ and ‘fight white genocide,'” it says. “Violence could occur for weeks… particularly as [domestic extremists] may be mobilized to respond to changes in state laws and ballot measures on abortion stemming from the decision.”

At the same time, the FBI is investigating a spate of threats and arson targeting anti-abortion pregnancy centers that began in the weeks after the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion indicating that Roe would be overturned. The June 24 DHS memo also cites at least 11 incidents of vandalism “threatening violence targeting religious facilities perceived as being opposed to abortion.”

With abortion-related protests set to continue in the months leading up to the midterm elections, federal law-enforcement officials acknowledge they’ll have to walk the line between monitoring these often amorphous threats and protecting peaceful protests. As DHS itself notes itself in its memo, “strong rhetoric, or generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics does not constitute domestic violent extremism or illegal activity and is constitutionally protected.”


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IsabellaLinton
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08 Jul 2022, 4:29 pm

I was accosted by Pro-Lifers who surrounded me at a gas station.



roronoa79
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08 Jul 2022, 5:07 pm

I'm not terribly amused by people acting like the pro-choice side is the more radical of the two. Were they not paying attention to the last 50 years of murders, death threats, and bombings from the anti-abortion crowd? Pro-lifers were threatening the lives of pro-choice SCOTUS judges before most of us were born.

Their behavior should not be a surprise.


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Twilightprincess
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08 Jul 2022, 5:59 pm

roronoa79 wrote:
I'm not terribly amused by people acting like the pro-choice side is the more radical of the two. Were they not paying attention to the last 50 years of murders, death threats, and bombings from the anti-abortion crowd? Pro-lifers were threatening the lives of pro-choice SCOTUS judges before most of us were born.

Their behavior should not be a surprise.


This is an excellent point. In many conservative areas of the US, being pro-choice is viewed as an extremist perspective when it’s not.


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IsabellaLinton
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08 Jul 2022, 6:03 pm

The ironic thing is that Pro-Lifers get their choice.
If they don't want an abortion they don't have to have one.
They believe in the freedom of their choice, but no one else's.



ilovepalmtrees
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08 Jul 2022, 11:02 pm

I no longer call those people "pro-life". I call them "pro-birth". If they were really pro-life, they would advocate for universal healthcare, living wages so it would actually be affordable to have a kid, quality education for everyone, OTC and easily accessible birth control, criminal justice reform, reducing climate change, etc.



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08 Jul 2022, 11:12 pm

If they had lain a hand on me, they'd be begging for their own lives.



funeralxempire
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09 Jul 2022, 1:02 am

I can't say I have an issue with antichoicers starting to feel the terror they've inflicted for ages if that's the amount of outrage they've drawn down upon themselves. I'm entitled to curtail your rights but mine are still sacrosanct sounds like hypocritical whining at the moment when you see the harm already inflicted.

Aggressive interdiction is inherently disruptive and while it might be a little late in the US there's other places where it isn't. At the very least in the US it can serve to disrupt attempts to interfere with fixing the problem.

What are they going to do, insist targeting those fake 'pregnancy crisis centres' is going too far? :lol:


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09 Jul 2022, 1:09 am

The weird thing is that there weren't any pro-choice protesters with them. Not to mention we aren't in America and pro-life "won" the SCOTUS case. I have no idea why they were just hanging out at busy intersection swarming an autistic woman with PTSD for the hell of it. I won't even repeat what they said or what pictures they bore.

Come to think of it, I've never seen a pro-choice protester in "real life" anywhere except online. Seems like they don't harass and intimidate people or perhaps they have better things to do with their time. The pro-lifers, conversely, tend to congregate around hospitals and try to guilt or shame anyone in their path.

It's farking horrible how they behave.



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09 Jul 2022, 1:19 am

Frankly this whole overturning of Roe V Wade is completely ludicrous. It's similar to Prohibition or the Drug War, People are going to have unsafe abortions just like making tainted bootleg alcohol or buying drugs on the Black Market. Banning things never works because people are going to take the Illegal and Unsafe Rought. Overturning RVW is already causing problems, the Idea of banning abortion even in cases of Rape, Incest, or Mom's life at risk is just utter Horse crap. We need to fight this absurd new law with everything we have.



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09 Jul 2022, 2:37 am

I just like how all the pro-abortion 'terrorism' has basically just been graffiti but that is so much scarier than the proud boys or open nazi supporters obviously it is those pro-choice heathens that are really the problem.


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Tim_Tex
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09 Jul 2022, 3:06 am

Sadly, it may take a China-style Cultural Revolution just to get the red states on par with the blue states.



ASPartOfMe
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09 Jul 2022, 10:19 am

funeralxempire wrote:
I can't say I have an issue with antichoicers starting to feel the terror they've inflicted for ages if that's the amount of outrage they've drawn down upon themselves. I'm entitled to curtail your rights but mine are still sacrosanct sounds like hypocritical whining at the moment when you see the harm already inflicted.

Aggressive interdiction is inherently disruptive and while it might be a little late in the US there's other places where it isn't. At the very least in the US it can serve to disrupt attempts to interfere with fixing the problem.

What are they going to do, insist targeting those fake 'pregnancy crisis centres' is going too far? :lol:


It is absolutely true that until it became obvious that Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned, protests from peaceful, to harassment, to terrorism(assassinating doctors, bombing clinics) were a anti abortion thing. The same idea should apply free speech deal with it, criminality prosecute.

As far as the pro life pregnancy centers go the state should prosecute them for false advertising, if they won’t lawsuits can be filed. As always as a consumer one should do due diligence.


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09 Jul 2022, 3:12 pm

Tim_Tex wrote:
Sadly, it may take a China-style Cultural Revolution just to get the red states on par with the blue states.

The Cultural Revolution is not just about culture...Its main cleaning direction is politics. in a disastrously amplified fashion.
However, yes, it has positive significance for cultural progress.


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09 Jul 2022, 8:26 pm

I'm on the pea pod side of the Pro-Lifers. Life is a gift from God that should be enjoyed by all.


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funeralxempire
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09 Jul 2022, 9:50 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
Life is a gift from God that should be enjoyed by all.


It's hard to enjoy something that's been imposed against one's preferences.

Also, you're still living somewhere where, if you get raped you will be able to seek termination so be thankful your rights are still protected.


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Last edited by funeralxempire on 09 Jul 2022, 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.