The United States is bracing for weeks of possible violence following Friday's Supreme Court ruling that struck down the constitutional right to abortion, sparking emotional responses from those on both sides of the debate.
In a new, updated analysis obtained by VOA, Department of Homeland Security officials warn that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) will likely seek to exploit the court ruling "to intensify violence against a wide range of targets."
"We expect violence could occur for weeks following the release, particularly as DVEs may be mobilized to respond to changes in state laws and ballot measures on abortion stemming from the decision," according to the analysis. "We base this assessment on an observed increase in violent incidents across the United States following the unauthorized disclosure in May of a draft majority opinion on the case."
The analysis notes that one network of "loosely affiliated" extremists has already called for a "night of rage," telling followers, "We need the state to feel our full wrath."
Intelligence also found more calls to violence on social media earlier this week, and officials worry that a series of arson and vandalism attacks against facilities and religious institutions tied to both sides of the abortion debate could signal an increase in violence.
"DHS will continue working with our partners across every level of government to share timely information and to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe," a Homeland Security spokesperson told VOA in a statement, when asked about concerns that the high court's abortion ruling could spark more violence.
"Americans' freedom of speech and right to peacefully protest are fundamental constitutional rights. Those rights do not extend to violence and other illegal activity," the spokesperson added.
Separately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation told VOA it is working with federal, state and local law enforcement partners “to ensure the safety of our communities while respecting individuals' First Amendment rights.”
“FBI personnel are assessing intelligence to detect potential threats of violence and are in constant communication with our partners,” it said in a statement. “We ask members of the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and immediately report any suspicious activity to law enforcement."
Earlier Friday, President Joe Biden and other top U.S. officials warned Americans against resorting to violence following the abortion ruling.