Threats are “likely to persist and may increase” leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision, the DHS’s intelligence arm said.
In the next month, the Supreme Court will issue a decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that’s expected to overturn Roe v. Wade. On both sides of the issue, people are preparing to react whenever the Court’s decision drops. But we’re not the only ones getting ready. A leaked memo shows that the Department of Homeland Security is getting ready for violence following the Court’s abortion ruling.
On Wednesday, Axios released details of a May 13 memo it obtained from DHS. The outlet reported that within it, DHS’s intelligence arm warned the threats that came following the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority draft opinion “are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing of the Court’s official ruling.”
Threats that DHS is particularly interested in include ones to burn down or storm the Supreme Court, harm justices and their clerks, or attack places of worships and abortion clinics. Axios reported that law enforcement agencies are looking at social media as a potential source of these threats.
Overall, it seems like the federal government is wary of another Jan. 6. The memo itself specifically notes the potential for right-wing violence, stating, “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.’”
The memo’s leak comes after the Anti-Defamation League published a report that found most political violence in the U.S. comes from the right. Now, I don’t care for the ADL given their long history of anti-Blackness and Islamophobia. But many people are spreading their findings which show that of 450 killings by extremists tracked by the ADL, about 75% were committed by right-wingers, and nearly half were tied to white supremacy specifically.
In the memo, DHS noted that simply protesting the Court isn’t a cause of concern, stating, “The mere advocacy of political or social positions, political activism, use of strong rhetoric, or generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics does not constitute domestic violent extremism or illegal activity and is constitutionally protected.”
However, this doesn’t mean DHS is your friend if you’re an abortion advocate. Following the leak of Alito’s opinion earlier this month, a series of protests broke out across the U.S. — including some in front of the homes of justices, including Alito and Brett Kavanaugh. In Los Angeles, DHS was spotted attacking protesters at a downtown rally.
Many wondered why DHS was present there to begin with. As I broke down in my newsletter NAZAR, a May 2021 joint report by DHS and the FBI named Abortion-Related Violent Extremists as potential sources of domestic terrorism. The document defines abortion-related violent extremists as “individuals who advocate for violence in support of either pro-life or pro-choice beliefs.”
Even if you’re only planning on attending the chillest of protests, it’s important to keep the potential for DHS’s presence in mind. Historically, DHS has been the furthest thing from a friend to social justice movements. And lastly: It never hurts to brush up on what to know if you’re arrested at a protest.