Within minutes of Roe v. Wade being overturned on Friday morning, far-right figures were already spreading conspiracies about a planned “night of rage” and urging their supporters to take up arms in response.
The United States Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, dealt a huge blow to many in the country, but for the far-right it’s a day to celebrate—or fight: Many are busy hyping threats of a violent retaliation to the SCOTUS decision.
Some far-right influencers say they’re expecting a “night of rage” from a large group of organized abortion-rights activists, some are urging their followers to go and protect the churches and streets from the imagined marauders, and others are simply salivating over the possibility of violence.
“It's a good thing the Supreme Court affirmed our right to conceal carry right before this ‘night of rage’ you guys are planning,” wrote right-wing commentator Matt Walsh. White nationalist internet celebrity Nicholas Fuentes simply wrote “DEFEND YOUR CHURCHES TONIGHT!” on his Telegram page. Right-wing and church-affiliated YouTubers have been creating videos for several days in regards to this idea, some even giving step-by-step instructions on “how to protect your church from the pro-abortion 'Night of Rage.”
Kristofer Goldsmith, a senior fellow for the Innovation Lab at Human Rights First, told VICE News that he’s seen extremists messaging about the “night of rage” for weeks and that it’s now being filtered into the mainstream by far-right influencers. Goldsmith said that “outside of vandalism” there is “no evidence of a far-left conspiracy to commit violence.”
“No one needs to go out and protect churches,” said Goldsmith. “That's what we have police for. These folks are looking to take advantage of what they perceive to be a politically permissive environment to engage in political violence.”
Goldsmith said that with this decision, the Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal, and Thursday’s concealed carry decision, the far-right is feeling “extremely emboldened” right now, which may lead to action on the streets. As summer and protest season begins, Goldsmith says he expects “a whole lot of far-right individuals covered in tactical gear carrying assault weapons who are just hoping and praying that they get an opportunity to live out their Kyle Rittenhouse fantasies.”
On Twitter, one member of the Three Percenter militia group called for an armed response to the perceived threat to churches. “May HaShem protect the houses of Worship, but if HE needs help, let him move the hearts of every Patriot, every Three Percenter, Every Proud Boy, Every Lone Wolf, and Every Man of faith to answer the call. Rejoice for today is a very Good Day in America !!! NOW AT THE READY III%”
Mike Lasater, a member of the St. Louis chapter of the Proud Boys, wrote: “Be ready to defend your church. Catholic parishes seem to be the most talked-about target.”
QAnon influencer Jordan Sather pushed the conspiracy even further, claiming that Hungarian billionaire philanthropist and right-wing boogeyman George Soros was behind the planned attacks. “George Soros currently making calls to his Antifa ring leaders telling them to assemble,” Sather wrote on his Telegram channel.
Even before the decision was delivered on Friday morning, some extremists were urging their followers to prepare for violence.
A Texas-based Christian fascist was telling his Instagram followers to bring rifles to protect churches and pregnancy centers if Roe was overturned.
"A lot of this messaging in reaction to the Dobbs decision so far reminds me of how conservatives online reacted to Black Lives Matter protests: hyping the possibility of riots, seeding the idea that ‘infiltrators’ will be the ones on their side who commit violence, and suggesting the police response will be—willing or unwillingly—inadequate,” Jared Holt, a domestic extremism researcher at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told VICE News.
Much of the reaction derives from a report in Newsweek based on an “urgent memo” reportedly sent to Catholic dioceses by the Department of Homeland Security that claimed it discovered a “manifesto” and says groups with “cells” are “casing” locations.
The existence of such a memo has not been confirmed by any other media outlet, and the DHS would not clarify if the document was real or not when responding to VICE News’ questions.
However a DHS memo dated Friday and obtained by VICE News does warn about violence from domestic violent extremists who support and oppose the decision, saying government officials, including judges, are at most risk.
“We expect violence could occur for weeks following the release, particularly as [domestic violent extremists] may be mobilized to respond to changes in state laws and ballot measures on abortion stemming from the decision,” the memo said.
Earlier this month, DHS issued a warning about the threat of increased violence after a draft version of the abortion opinion was leaked:
“Given a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case about abortion rights, individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies,” DHS wrote in a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin on June 7.
Seemingly it’s not just the far-right preparing for the showdown, as a large group of riot police were spotted organizing in Washington, D.C.
A great majority of the messaging within the far-right ecosystem seems to be less about the decision and much more about the reaction to it by the left. Videos of people crying in reaction to it are being shared, as well as screenshots of tweets where people say they’re “literally shaking right now.”
“Degenerate hypocritical fools,” wrote English far-right activist Tommy Robinson. “We bathe in their salty tears, it sustains us.”
Others used this victory to remind followers to keep pushing the United States further right and target same-sex marriage, contraception, and other civil rights. Elsewhere people wrote “the next step is to ban gay marriage.” (Justice Clarence Thomas put that on the table in his concurring opinion Friday morning.)
“Remember, as awesome as today is — it’s not enough,” wrote one. “Time to go further right. Then even further. Then even further than that.”