Situation Report: “Jane’s Revenge” declares responsibility for attacks on 4 churches in Washington state

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Over the weekend of May 22, four churches in the Olympia, Washington area were the targets of vandalism, with spray-painted slogans such as “Abort the Church” and “if abortions aren’t safe neither are you.” Threats to churches have increased since the publication of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court on the politically charged Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization case was leaked to Politico.

The issuance of a communique, distributed to multiple anarchist websites including Puget Sound Anarchists and Abolition Media Worldwide, makes the most recent vandalism particularly worrisome. The message claimed credit for the vandalism in the name of the “Jane’s Revenge- Bo Brown Memorial Cell.”

A group calling itself “Jane’s Revenge” previously took credit for a Molotov cocktail attack against a pro-life advocacy organization, Wisconsin Family Action, on May 8, and called for more attacks. The group’s “first communique” was widely shared and positively received on anarchist social media. Graffiti referencing “Jane’s Revenge” has been identified at other vandalism sites.

“Jane’s Revenge” is a reference to the 1970’s Chicago-based underground abortion providers “Jane’s Collective” whose members were arrested for performing illegal abortion procedures, but because of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision the charges were ultimately dismissed. The historic group has been an increasingly popular media subject in recent years, the subjects of films and documentaries on Amazon and HBO, and highlighted in mainstream publications such as Vanity Fair.

The reference in the latest communique to “Bo Brown” is also highly significant. Rita “Bo” Brown, described by the Anarchist Black Cross Federation as a “white working class butch dyke lesbian anti-authoritarian anti-imperialist” was a member of the George Jackson Brigade, which in the 1970s conducted a series of armed robberies and bombings in the Pacific Northwest. Brown was known for her bank robberies in which she dressed as a man as part of her disguise. An active radical speaker and organizer following her 9-year prison sentence, Brown passed away from natural causes in October 2021.

The language of the Olympia communique is typical of insurrectionary anarchist thought urging direct action over theory. “While a little graffiti may be a small gesture in the war against patriarchal religious control,” the authors write, “we wish to highlight that it’s easy and fun to attack. Our enemies are vulnerable and easy to find. In acting, we learn to act; in waiting, we only learn to wait. The secret is to really begin.”

The latest communique also includes what appears to be an explicit threat to a local crisis pregnancy center in the Olympia area, and to several companies identified as the center’s financial supporters. Combined with the reference to the George Jackson Brigade, which was known for conducting bombings of local companies viewed as supportive of political opponents, the threat to local businesses should be viewed as genuine.

As political tension over the upcoming Supreme Court decision continues to build, law enforcement should anticipate that more anarchist cells and affinity groups are likely to adopt the “Jane’s Revenge” label during actions against religious institutions, pro-life advocacy groups and crisis pregnancy centers, and companies or corporations perceived as supporting those views. In most cases these groups are likely to consist of individuals already active in anarchist or antifa circles, adopting the name as a form of propaganda.

Kyle Shideler

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