Who, or what, is 'Jane's Revenge'? A look at the group invoked in pro-abortion vandalism
Anarchist groups and individuals using the moniker "Jane's Revenge" are among those who claim to be planning a "Night of Rage" to respond to the Supreme Court's expected overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Their grandiose rhetoric portrays churches, crisis pregnancy centers, and pro-life groups as their enemy, and these actors seem to be behind at least six vandalism or arson attacks on pro-life groups, crisis pregnancy centers, and churches.
The first communique from a group calling itself Jane's Revenge was posted May 8 to the anonymous blogging host noblogs.org, the same day as a vandal and arson attack on Wisconsin Family Action that appeared to be anarchists motivated by animosity towards the group's pro-life cause.
The communique characterized the attack as a "warning" and claimed it would not issue any further warnings. Its authors claimed to be the victims of a "war" and to have been "shot, bombed, and forced into childbirth without consent."
Claiming that attacks on abortion clinics and abortion doctors were happening with "impunity," the Jane's Revenge communique demanded "the disbanding of all anti-choice establishments, fake clinics, and violent anti-choice groups within the next thirty days."
Madison police said they were aware that a group had claimed responsibility for the attack and was working with federal partners to determine whether the claim is true.
On May 10, Robert Evans, a journalist who reports on online extremism, posted screenshots of the communique to Twitter, saying he received the statement from "an anonymous intermediary I trust," hosted on a site on the semi-private internet network Tor.
A May 30 statement at noblogs.org and attributed to Jane's Revenge called for a "Night of Rage" the night the final Supreme Court decision is released.
Why the name 'Jane's Revenge'?
Evans appears to be among the first to connect the group's name with the Jane Collaborative, which does not appear in the first Jane's Revenge statement. The collaborative was an illegal abortion procurement ring operating out of Chicago in the late 1960s and early 1970s. National Public Radio ran several stories on the group in early May.
An HBO documentary, "The Janes," was released on June 8. The HBO website portrays the group as "defying the state legislature that outlawed abortion, the Catholic Church that condemned it, and the Chicago Mob that was profiting from it." The group performed abortions on about 11,000 women, resulting in the deaths of their babies.
Are these anarchist groups organized? It's not clear.
The size of Jane's Revenge is hard to determine. While its first communique claimed to have backers across the U.S. in every city, its May 30 message claims its movement will be "unsustainable" if it continues to rely on "the same few hundred people."
The group's second statement, published May 30, calls for activism and the creation of "autonomously organized self-defense networks" The group tends to be critical of more mainstream abortion activists and their "demure little rallies for freedom."
"We cannot sit idly by anymore while our anger is yet again channeled into Democratic party fundraisers and peace parades with the police."
Jane's Revenge called for a "Night of Rage" on the day the final Supreme Court decision on abortion is issued at 8 p.m., calling this a "general guideline" to be adapted for local conditions.
The statement claimed inspiration from "reproductive liberation" autonomous organization movements in Argentina, Mexico, and Poland.
Contending that abortion foes "work to oppress us," the group's May 30 statement repeated another slogan used to vandalize pro-life groups and churches: "If abortion isn't safe, you aren't either. We are everywhere."
Kyle Shideler, a senior analyst for the Homeland Security and Terrorism at the Center for Security Policy, said militant abortion groups like Jane's Revenge "organize in local cells" and its claimed members have "likely voluntarily self-identified themselves as Jane's Revenge."
"It is unlikely that there is a hierarchy or that they receive orders, although they may communicate from cell to cell or use social media or in other ways," he told the EWTN news show "The World Over" on June 9.
According to Shideler, the government does not treat anarchist organizations as criminal conspiracies, but as "a bunch of looney individuals operating separately."
In his view, this is the wrong approach.
"Although they are cellular in structure they are very organized and they need to be treated as an organization," he said.
What has Jane's Revenge done?
The first crime invoking "Jane" appears to have taken place early in the morning of May 8, Mother's Day, when the Madison, Wisconsin headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action was targeted by arson and vandalism. The vandalism involved an anarchist symbol, an anti-police slogan, and the phrase "if abortions aren't safe, you aren't safe either."
Other incidents followed.
On the night of May 13, a vandal spray-painted slogans, including the words "Jane's Revenge," on the walls of the Alpha Pregnancy Center in Reisterstown, Maryland.
On May 22, St. Michael Parish in Olympia was vandalized with the words "Abort the church" spray-painted on a wall. Several other non-Catholic churches were targeted by vandals. In a message submitted anonymously to Puget Sound Anarchists, the Bo Brown Memorial Cell of Jane's Revenge claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The group said it was motivated by the churches' ties to crisis pregnancy centers, which it characterized as "religious fake clinics that manipulate mostly poor people into having and keeping children they don't want or aren't ready for and marrying whomever impregnated them whether or not that relationship is healthy or safe." It characterized both the Catholic Church and the LDS / Mormon church as "patriarchal sex abuse cults."
The group's "cell" is named for a local anarchist who was a member of the George Jackson Brigade, a self-styled revolutionary group that committed several bank robberies and multiple pipe bombings in Washington State and Oregon in the 1970s.
In a separate crime on May 25, Next Step Pregnancy Center in Lynnwood, Washington, was tagged with graffiti saying, "Jane's revenge" and "If abortions aren't safe, you aren't either." At least five of its windows were smashed.
An Archdiocese of Miami-run pro-life pregnancy center in Hollywood, Florida, was defaced with pro-abortion graffiti over Memorial Day weekend.
"If abortions aren't safe then niether [sic] are you," "Janes revenge," and an anarchist symbol were written outside the South Broward Pregnancy Help Center, located about 45 minutes north of Miami. You can watch surveillance footage of the vandalism suspects in action below.
Miami's Archbishop Thomas Wenski denounced the vandalism, saying "it also expresses contempt for the beliefs, values and practices of a faith community and could easily escalate to physical harm to members of these faith communities."
Another attack took place June 3, when the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington D.C. was vandalized with red paint and spray paint that said "Jane says revenge."
In upstate New York, a pro-life pregnancy center sustained major damage in a fire and was defaced with pro-abortion graffiti the morning of June 7.
The center, CompassCare, located in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst, New York, posted photos showing shattered windows and office space heavily burned and damaged. The words "Jane was here" spray-painted on the side of the building.
Rev. James Harden, a Methodist minister and CEO of CompassCare, said there were "multiple perpetrators" who caused "catastrophic damage." He told "The World Over" that the FBI is involved in the investigation.
He also called on government officials to condemn crimes against crisis pregnancy centers.
Is Jane's Revenge a terrorist group?
Shideler said Jane's Revenge's acts should be viewed through the lens of terrorism.
In his view, these actions are aimed "to intimidate an arm of the government," namely the Supreme Court, and "to intimidate the public, members of the pro-life movement, and to disrupt their ability to organize at the state and local level."
The groups say they will "escalate violence if the government does not do what they wish," in Shideler's words, and "that is the definition of terrorism."
He faulted a "very poor" federal response to such groups. He said federal officials wrongly treat anarchist individuals as "primarily a local law enforcement problem."
Shideler also lamented the existence of "mainstream tolerance for this kind of behavior," similar to tolerance for political violence in 2020.